Wheel Scene ISSUE 08/FEBRUARY 2013/FREE ALLAN BEAULIEU/KEATON NEWSOM/ MARC MORENO/BRIAN FREEMAN ESBEN AND THE WITCH/P.O.S./JAMES IHA/ PAUL BANKS/CHVRCHES
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The Rumour Mill The Young NYC Street Invitational 2012 Amanda Palmer Nils Jansons Allan Beaulieu Paul Banks Keaton Newsom P.O.S. Aussie Titles 2012 Eugene McGuinness Brian Freeman Marc Moreno Chvrches Allah-Las Esben and the Witch James Iha
Issue 08 February 2013 (c) Wheel Scene Ltd. Editor David McNamara Sub-Editor Chris Delaney Designers Gareth Lindsay Graham Patrick Web Design Ewan McDonald Stuart Chown Words Sam DeAngelis, Nina Glencross, Freddy White, David McNamara, Louis Flood, Josh Dick, Henry Wilkinson, Marianne Gallagher, Chris Purnell. Photos Christian Delfino, Andrius Lipsys, Kuban Urbanczyk, Raf Fujiwara, Vankemmel Thibaut, Jaysin Williams, Kelly Loverud, Hayden Golder, Dean Rogers, Chris Dafick Ivan Malvido, John Speirs, Aliya Naumoff. Cover photo: Vankemmel Thibaut Allan Beaulieu: Handplant 540
Wheel Scene is the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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 email@example.com 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.
Regardless, we are back and we have another issue crammed with blading and music goodness. We hooked up with Interpol frontman Paul Banks, former Smashing Pumpkins’ guitarist James Iha and Brighton-based alternative rock outfit Esben and the Witch amongst others. Some serious blading talents also grace our pages, including one of France’s most progressive street skaters Allan Beaulieu, Valo riders Keaton Newsom and Brian Freeman, as well as Spanish blading icon Marc Moreno and more.
As Lonnie Gallegos once told me: “We do not die, we multiply... slowly.”
We also have highlights from the NYC Street Invite (even though it was bloody ages ago), the Aussie Titles, a quick catch up with Nils Jansons and some other little gems for you to feast your eyes upon. So, stain your fingers with some tabloid-sized fodder and set your patience level to tolerant because we are already working on the follow-up.
David McNamara – Editor
Remember us? We understand that a significant amount of time has passed since the release of Wheel Scene Issue 7. We also understand that we promised to deliver a fresh dose of blading editorial every two months. Well, after two years (really?) of Wheel Scene, we have realised that that this is simply not possible for several reasons: One: There is simply not enough money in the industry to support a bi-monthly blading publication. Two: Skaters get injured, so even if you line up interviews with 20 bladers, there is no guarantee that any of them will be able to gather enough photos in such a small time period. Three: Wheel Scene is run by just three people who juggle this venture with full-time jobs and other responsibilities.
Outdated, sexist stereotypes would have you believe that women are the vindictive, malicious sex and love nothing more than bad mouthing men, and each other, in private. Rollerblading may be a predominantly male pursuit, but the abusive, slanderous and downright bizarre comments left on Rollernews and the Be-Mag messageboards prove beyond all doubt that guys love to bitch just as much as that snotty cow you secretly fantasised about strangling at school. Rather than delving into the ethical implications of random strangers across the world getting involved in an argument when they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know either party personally or have any real insight into the situation, we decided to simply re-cap some of our favourite rumours from the past few years. These events may have led to vile, and in some cases unnecessary, hatred towards the individuals involved, but there is no denying that it made for an entertaining read when there were no new edits to watch. The following rumours are placed in no particular order, as each altercation has reserved a special place in our hearts for the sheer diversity of wild, and sometimes hilarious, claims that they spawned. However, it does seem odd that Julian Bah is involved in three of them in one way or another.
Montre Livingston hucks a mute 540 over the barrier in Berlin.
The Rumour Mill A breakdown of rollerbladingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most interesting and ridiculous stories from the past several years. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Photo: Kuba Urbanczyk
*Julian Bah getting dropped from Rollerblade
*Don Bambrick getting dropped from Razors and USD
In 2009, Tom Hyser released a press statement announcing that Julian Bah would no longer be a member of the Rollerblade pro team. While it is commendable that he actually took the effort to provide an official declaration of Bah’s departure, he did not state why and this set the rumour mill ablaze. Some claimed that it was as a result of him having a public argument with then girlfriend Coco Sanchez at Bitter Cold Showdown, others claimed Bah pushed her to the ground and the most vicious rumour insisted that he actually physically beat her. Needless to say, his name got dragged through the mud and he still gets abuse about it to this day.
Just when it seemed like Julian Bah would take the title of most sacked professional in blading history, Don Bambrick stepped up to the plate and got canned by two companies in less than a year. First, he got fired from Razors just after the release of his first pro skate. This was supposedly due to the fact that he hung out in the Razors house, got drunk and filmed a spoof of MTV Cribs with Adam Johnson when he was supposed to be representing the brand at the SDSF Open. Adam Johnson decided to poke fun at him in CHARG!NG by scattering clips of Vince McMahon screaming “you’re fired” during his section. He was soon picked up by USD and received his second pro skate shortly after. However, the relationship soon ended on a sour note when he was axed without any public statement from The Conference. If internet chatter is to be believed, this was due to the lack of exposure Bambrick generated in support of his pro model.
*Brian Shima stealing Nimh
Despite the fact the rumours surrounding Rat Tail’s closure had been circling for a while, it was not confirmed until a message surfaced on Be-Mag from a supposed former employee of the distribution company. The unnamed source claimed that, after personal issues with co-owners Jon Elliot and Jan Welch, Brian Shima systematically dismantled the company behind their backs and finally sealed the deal by stealing the entire inventory and using all profits and products to start Shima Skate Manufacturing. There were whispers that conflict arose from Jon Elliot’s apparent drug problem, but none of this has been confirmed. Neither party released an official statement about the incident, but clearly the entire pro team agreed with Shima as they decided to follow him to SSM. *The INRI team video saga When Sean Cullen, or Sea as he likes to be known these days, gradually started uploading sections from the INRI team video The Rebirth online at the beginning of 2012, the backlash began and it was vicious. The filmer of Aaron Feinberg’s section claimed that the clips were used without his permission, as did Craig Smith, the filmer responsible for the majority of the footage in the Gav Drumm section. Most curiously, Julian Bah didn’t even know he had a section in the team video, or was in fact a member of the team, until the premiere when Cullen advised Bah that his section was his personal favourite. According to an interview with the Atlanta native for Mushroom Blading, the clips were simply off cuts from the Razors team video Game Theory that Cullen acquired from Helton Siqueira. Needless to say, these allegations resulted in a tidal wave of hatred directed at the Mr. Sea. *Julian Bah losing his spot on the Razors team Within a few short months of being added to the Razors pro team, Julian Bah was unceremoniously dropped without any explanation from the boot company. There were claims that he was let go after his section from the debut Ground Control team video was leaked online prior to its release, but Bah stated in an online interview that he was told by Razors owner Andy Wegener that he simply wasn’t fulfilling his duties as a professional and promoting himself in a way that was previously agreed. He is currently skating for Adapt, but how long will that last?
*Montre Livingston getting sacked from SSM Montre Livingston was one of the biggest stars on the Nimh team and when the brand morphed into SSM, he was the poster boy for the company’s new identity and was awarded the first pro skate. However, shortly before The Blading Cup 2012, Denial owner Adam Kilgore announced that his brand, along with Create Originals, would be paying for Livingston’s flight to the event as SSM were apparently not willing. He also claimed that Livingston had not been paid any royalties for either of his pro skates as Shima had used the money to pay for the production of John Bolino’s pro model. After the event, SSM released an official statement announcing Livingston’s departure from the pro team and insinuated that it was a mutual agreement, but the Charlotte native posted a message on his Twitter account that indicated he was completely unaware of this. Dave Lang then took to the internet to defend Shima and advised anyone that would listen that the SSM boss had actually tried to arrange a sponsorship deal with Razors for the gifted blader. Regardless, Shima’s reputation took another beating and the blading community was extremely vocal about their distaste for his supposed misdemeanours.
Five Albums that Changed my Life: The Young Vocalist/guitarist Hans Zimmerman has generously offered to guide us through some of the choice cuts from his childhood, which he seemed to stumble upon based on the aesthetic appeal of the album artwork alone. Perhaps judging a book by its cover can does have some benefits after all.
Austin, Texas fuzz rock quartet The Young have been kicking up a storm on both sides of the Atlantic since the release of their second full-length, Dub Egg, earlier this year. Their latest offering is a veritable collection of alt rock loser anthems and their live shows will leave your ears ringing for days on end due to a relentless onslaught of distortion and feedback.
at once. This one had a cool title and I knew about Bad Religion, so I took a chance and mail ordered it. The record showed up a few weeks later and the cover art was so sick; pointy-nosed, bloodied punks climbing all over each other with toothless grins of anguish and depravity. This was the perfect pairing with the music contained on the record, which I played in sequence front to back many times. My favorite cuts were from Battalion of Saints, blistering white-hot shit that made my zits rupture. I had a fantasy that the punk bus on the back cover would be pulling up to my house soon and dropping me off inside the Suburbia film.
Metallica – Master of Puppets I was a fourth grade nerd, deeply fascinated by the older kids’ insane heavy metal T-shirts and baggy jeans. I used some leftover birthday money to purchase a cassette tape by one of the bands featured on said T-Shirts from the local Walmart. If memory serves, I picked Master of Puppets because it looked cooler than …And Justice for All. I ripped into the tape when I got home and tossed it into my tape player, and was instantly bummed on my purchase. Acoustic guitar?!? What?!? Before I could get too worked up, the full weight of ‘Battery’ kicked-in and completely crumbled my fourth grade brain. It was everything I wanted to hear because it was like nothing I had ever heard before. This record made me a sicko and I’m glad it came into my life.
Ramones – Ramones Mania The summer before sixth grade, I was out of town on a terrible trip to a sun-scorched section of south Texas to visit a great aunt with my grandmother and sister. We spent way too much time at a nearly abandoned dirt mall on the outskirts of San Antonio and I pawed some Ramones CDs for a very long time, trying to figure out which one I should spend $17.99 plus tax on. The only reason I picked Mania was because it had the most songs on it (30) of the available titles. I had no way of listening to the album until several days later and mostly spent my time nose-pressed to the tiny booklet art, trying to imagine what it sounded like. When the time finally came to jam it I was floored! How were they so wonderfully dumb and perfectly crafted at the same time? I wanted to be a Ramone so bad.
Various Artists / BYO Records – Someone Got Their Head Kicked In Eighth grade: Now I had one of those combo stereo units with a turntable on the top and this BYO comp was my first vinyl punk purchase. I had a habit of checking out compilations so I could get a hold of a lot of sounds
Minutemen – Paranoid Time EP I got this shortly after the BYO comp, also through mail-order. This little slab was so cool, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The strange line drawing on the front depicting some tense filmmaking unravelled sonically to reveal bizarrely short but super intimate and catchy songs. It was also my first exposure to the Spot/SST/Pettibon world, which yielded many delights as I explored further. I never found another Minutemen, though, and it’s easy to see why. Humble and beautifully crude, it somehow made me feel really hopeful for six and a half minutes at a time, despite feeling hemmed-in and isolated in my tiny hometown.
Neil Young – Comes a Time In between blasting music made by overtly fucked-up weirdos, I would play this record from my dad’s collection, mostly late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. In retrospect, Neil is every bit as demented (and then some) as the punkers getting played on my stereo, but what I really connected with on this record was the lonesome yearning for something just out-of-reach. I had been exposed to country music and western swing earlier, so the southern affectation and composition of this material was really cool for me to hear. I didn’t go further than exploring Decade and American Stars ‘n Bars from my dad’s collection for many years, but that’s all I really needed.
NYC Street Invitational 2012 You’ve already seen the edits, now gain an insight into Billy O’Neill’s annual New York City blading spectacle through the eyes of local Sam DeAngelis. — Words: Sam DeAngelis Photos: Christian Delfino
Throughout the past couple of years, the New York City contest scene has been diminishing. In 2011, NYC lost a great street event held at Washington Heights called The Last Man Standing Competition. After we caught wind of the death of a great street competition, there wasn’t much hope for New York City competitive rollerblading. In 2011, Billy O’Neill brought competitive street skating back to NYC. He organised the first annual NYC Street Invitational, which brought together some of the best skaters in the world to battle in the streets of New York. It was held under a freeway in Brooklyn and went off without a hitch, as O’Neill turned an underground street battle into the most organised blading competition in New York City. Despite some stellar performances from Chris Haffey, Brian Aragon, CJ Wellsmore and David Sizemore, top honours went to Kansas City’s prodigal son, Alex Broskow.
This year and last, with the help of Bernal Heights Collective and Create Originals, the event was able to put up $10,000 in prize money, with $5,000 going to first place. This is one of the biggest prize purses in the blading industry and, unsurprisingly, a lot of hungry amateurs and professionals were drawn to the event based on that incentive. The NYC Street Invitational 2012 crew met up early in LES (The Lower East Side) Saturday morning and got things organised at Coleman Skate Park for the Second Annual NYC Street Invitational. “But wait”, you say. “If it’s the NYC Street Invitational, where is the STREET?” We asked ourselves the same thing! There are rumours that the event was originally scheduled to take place at the legendary John Browne High School in Brooklyn, made famous by many east coast blading videos over the last two decades, but apparently the arrangement fell through at the last minute. With thousands of people from all over the world descending upon New York City for the follow-up of last year’s spectacle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a quick decision had to be made. Billy O’Neill, along with Create Originals owners Hakeem Jimoh and Brian Lewis, brainstormed and decided the event should proceed at the new LES Skate Park, formerly known as Coleman Skatepark. Coleman Skate Park was recently renovated with over one million dollars of construction to bring the park up to its current standard. Its allure comes from the plethora of creative street obstacles strung into lines throughout the park situated in the middle of the hood, separated by only a chain link fence. It may not have any handrails, stair ledges or big gaps to choose from but, under the circumstances, it was the best location that could be found at short notice. Pros from all over the world showed up for NYC’s largest blade event on one of the sunniest days in September. It was like a scene from the Harmony Korine film KIDS, minus the beatings, class A drug use and rape.
The contest itself seemed to be organised chaos. As always, Demetrios George pushed the limits of athleticism with a showcase of impossible stunts throughout the day. Brian Aragon laced some technical wizardry that suspiciously resembled CGI. Tim Franken stopped back home from the west coast and destroyed the place. Nick Lomax showed the USA what he is made of. Erik Bailey opened up the place as if it was seen with new eyes. CJ Wellsmore came from down under and med 720’d the double set – a previously unseen sight that will probably never be repeated. And last but certainly not least, John Bolino came back to the east coast form Oakland, California and made Coleman his bitch, lacing everything from a fakie 540 front savannah on the hubba to an immaculate 540 over the double set to two foot fakie roll down the small ledge encasing the stairs. Needless to say, this final feat of what the hell were you thinking set the crowd wild and galvanised his 2012 NYC Street Invitational Champion. NYC celebrated that night as athletes from all over the world took to the streets in honour of blading. That night the city didn’t sleep, but then again she never does.
Power of the People Amanda Palmer’s fans coughed up $1.2m in order to fund her latest album, and she couldn’t be happier with the finished product. — Words: Nina Glencross Photo: Andrius Lipsys
Musician. Artist. Business woman. Reigning Queen of the Twittersphere. Amanda Palmer is many things, most recently a record-breaking Kickstarter user, having crowdsourced over $1.2m to fund her second solo album Theatre Is Evil, its accompanying art book and a tour which will take The Dresden Dolls pianist and her new band of glorious misfits, The Grand Theft Orchestra, all the way through until late 2013. But, although the story of her Kickstarter success has been the main reason for the media’s recent burst of interest in the Bostonian piano slayer, what was often overlooked on the run up to its release was the record itself. After all, it was the reason the Kickstarter was set up in the first place, yet most journalists decided instead to concentrate on the success of the campaign, the financial aspects, what it meant for the future of music creation and distribution and so on. This is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, crowdsourcing is something which Palmer herself has always been actively involved in and promoted even before The Dresden Dolls existed so, if anything, the mainstream media were a little late to the party.
Knowing her fanbase to be as insanely loyal as they are, her confidence in them to help her out with her project was not unfounded. “The first day, when we hit the [$10,000] goal, I knew we were well on our way for it to be really successful,” says Palmer. Besides her legion of devotees, Palmer has also had unparalleled support from her friends, family and team, something which was clear at her Kickstarter Countdown Party which was webcast on the Internet. From her husband Neil Gaiman to her management team and friends from all walks of her life, Palmer soaked up the support which fuelled what she describes “felt like a very genuine community effort.” As you may expect, this kind of success doesn’t happen overnight, at least it certainly hasn’t for Palmer who has been writing songs, performing music, connecting and communicating with fans and building up a fanbase with her Dresden Dolls cohort, drummer Brian Viglione, since the birth of the band in 2000. Ask her what advice she would give new acts looking to use online crowdfunding platforms for their musical endeavours and her answer is simple but important: You need to have a crowd before you can crowdfund. “You really have to do the things that bands have had to do from the beginning of time,” she advises, “write good songs, be good performers, work on your show, build a fanbase and then you can go to that fanbase for help.” On the flipside, to more established acts looking to leave their label, just as she did with Roadrunner in 2010, Palmer asserts, “there is life after the major label and if you’re a great artist with an established fanbase and you have a direct connection to them already, this is possible.” A future where artists can become increasingly more empowered is what a hopeful Palmer envisions. “To me, the best part of crowdfunding is just the power of what and how things happen if creation and distribution really is in the hands of the artist,” she explains, “if more of that can happen, I’ll be very happy.” Crowdfunding and Kickstarter aside, Palmer’s new album Theatre Is Evil is a 12-track tour-de-force, revealing Palmer in a whole new light, like you’ve never seen her before. Inspired hugely by her teenage record collection, a healthy dose of The Cars, INXS, Depeche Mode and The Cure, the record is, in Palmer’s own words, “unapologetically ‘80s”. It’s punk cabaret covered in glitter and channelled through a synthesizer or five. Lyric wise, Palmer takes a far more literal approach compared to the more poetic and abstract style she usually adopts. “A lot of it was just about giving myself permission to do things the way they came into my head,” she explains, “without feeling I had to be deliberately weird.”
There’s a recurring theme throughout Theatre Is Evil of killing and death, particularly in the likes of ‘The Killing Type’, ‘Trout Heart Replica’ and ‘The Bed Song’, which Palmer declares, “is up there among the best songs I’ve written, period.” But this “theme” was something Palmer herself didn’t notice until much later. “None of those songs were written at the same time but I realised when I went into the recording studio, I was like, ‘Oh jeez, there’s a lot of killing and death on this record’,” she recalls. The album was recorded in Melbourne, Australia, with Palmer’s new band The Grand Theft Orchestra and producer John Congleton. Australia is a place Palmer has always held close to her heart, so it was no surprise that this is where she chose to record the songs she was so excited about sharing. “I knew I would be happy there, it’s as simple as that”, she explains, “I woke up happy, I rode my bike to the studio happy, I went to the coffee shop happy because I just love it there.” In the studio, Palmer felt safe knowing Congleton was in charge as producer, describing him as almost like a long lost brother in that their musical tastes are uncannily similar. “All I had to do was say ‘Psychedelic Furs marimbas!’ and he would say ‘Yes, yes, yes!’,” she recalls, “we were absolutely speaking the same language, which just made the process simpler.” The Grand Theft Orchestra – Chad Raines on guitar and synth, Jherek Bischoff on bass and Michael McQuilken on drums – honestly seem too good to be true. The trio brought Palmer’s songs to life in ways Palmer admits, “I certainly never could have done myself or even with hired studio musicians, because they came in with really strong personalities and musical tastes.” The band also, between them, compose and conduct the strings, brass and stage direction, important skills that are crucial to the music and the show but often go unnoticed with Palmer in the spotlight. “I feel like they need buckets of credit but since I’m me, they tend to get overshadowed,” she admits. Now, with the Kickstarter campaign over and the album unleashed on the world, Palmer and co have taken to the road to spread love and mayhem until late 2013, with shows Palmer describes as “a Rocky Horror meets Flaming Lips experience.” A year and a half on tour may seem like a daunting prospect but Palmer couldn’t be more excited. “If I weren’t as in love with the record, I think it would be harder to look down the barrel of a year and a half on the road,” she explains, “but I’m so proud of it and I love the band so much that it just feels more like a lucky honour to be able to go out and promote it.”
16 WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK Truespin Mizou
My Year So Far: Nils Jansons.
Latvia’s number one blading export reflects on some of his highlights from 2012 and offers an insight into his plans for the next twelve months. — Photo: Kuba Urbanczyk
Nils Jansons is easily one of the most respected rollerbladers in Europe for a multitude of reasons. He has overpowered some of the best rollerbladers in the world at many of the biggest events in the sport, he was voted WRS Uploaded 2012 fan favourite, his section in the debut Ground Control video was nothing short of exceptional and he was voted ONE Blader of the Year by his contemporaries. In addition to the many accolades Jansons has achieved over his short career to date, the Latvian blading machine boasts an enviable selection of sponsors including Remz, Hedonskate, BHC, The Hive and Ground Control. 2012 was yet another landmark year in what will inevitably become the young blading star’s legacy. He has stunned fans and rivals, taking first place at the Swedish Championships and a respectable second place at Winterclash 2012. As the year fades into the distance and we prepare for all the thrills and spills that 2013 will no doubt offer, Nils takes a break from his hectic touring schedule and university studies to run through some of his favourite moments from the past twelve months.
Wheel Scene: What has been your favourite blading event of 2012 and why? Nils Jansons: Hard one. At every event I’ve been I have had a really great time with everyone, but if I have to pick a favourite than I would say Winterclash because I don’t need to say why. The Swedish Open Championships were also great because of how it is every year - perfect indoor skatepark, tons of friends and kids all having a great time - when I’m there I just feel that super awesome great vibe. What was your worst injury and how did it happen? I twisted my knee pretty bad while doing the last trick of my WRS Uploaded edit. Then had to go to FISE the next week and I still skated and couldn’t get it back to perfect condition for a while. I always hurt my wrists even though I don’t fall on them too much anymore - they are fucked up for life. What has been your favourite blading edit of 2012? I think Bolino’s new skate promo and Eisler’s Loco edit impressed me the most. You have visited many countries this year, what has been your favourite place and why? Switzerland, Geneva was really sick - mountains around the city and perfect concrete plaza/bowl and great people, just the perfect mix to make a trip awesome. I recently got back from my first trip to China and it was great, too bad it was just a week because it’s way too short to explore Beijing. We hit Woodward Beijing and had great people around, had some good food and saw some cool stuff. The comp sucked because it was raining a little bit, there was even a little bit of snow, but they still forced us to skate. Everyone was skating pretty safe and the doing best they could, but I will definitely end up in China again someday to see more. Which skater has impressed you the most this year and why? I would have to say Richie Eisler. I’ve always looked up to his skating and now that I have had the chance to skate with him at many events this year he impresses me every time I see him skating. He’s a great guy and an incredible skater.
What have been your top competition results in 2012? 1st place at Swedish Wikingships. 1st at Shred Cologne. 2nd place at Winterclash Pro. 4th place at Laced Pro. 4th place at China X Open, which is nothing that good, I just want to point that out because it’s the furthest I have travelled for a competition! Do you have any plans for 2013? So far, just Winterclash, but I’m not the biggest planner of my future. I’m sure I will end up in cool places with cool people around the globe. I will probably film some sections and go to contests and tours. You’ll hear about it when I hear about it, haha! I don’t know where I’m gonna end up, I just know it’s gonna be what I want for sure! I’m juiced to continue doing what I’m doing. Are you filming for any video sections at the moment? Not at the moment. The winter is almost here and street skating has ended. I mean, I will still go out in the snow to get some winter clips, but not daily. I got school, so ‘til end of the year I guess I’ll just shred at our two indoor parks and go to university to finish this semester, and start going around the world next year.
18 WWW.WHEELSCENE.CO.UK Topside acid
The Escape Artist
He tried to hide from us for almost two years, but we finally tracked down Allan Beaulieu and it was worth the effort. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Words: Freddy White Photos: Raf Fujiwara and Vankemmel Thibaut
If Allan Beaulieu ever tires of being one of the most innovative rollerbladers in the European scene he can easily reinvent himself as an international man of mystery, because the man is almost impossible to track down. Despite the fact that he has been a highly respected member of the French blading community for several years, we only first caught a glimpse of his exceptional talents when we witnessed his Powerhouse edit back in March, 2011. Since then, we have persevered with relentless obsession to try and secure an interview with him. We tried contacting him by email with no joy. We tried to arrange an interview through his boot sponsor USD with no joy. We even reached out to a few other bladers we knew in France to see if they could set something up and still came up with nothing. After almost two entire years of chasing after him like a deranged fanatic, we had almost given up hope of ever creating a feature to celebrate his undeniable skill on skates. Then, at the end of 2012, we were literally handed the opportunity on a plate. Photographer Vankemmel Thibaut randomly contacted us through the Wheel Scene website to enquire if we would be interested in publishing a series of great photos he had taken to document the Arcena tour of Barcelona. The photo series featured some epic shots of team riders Louis Vilar and Nico Auroux, but our attention was instantly diverted by three exceptional shots (two of which feature in this interview) of Beaulieu doing what he does best on some of the most iconic spots the Catalan city has to offer. We naively thought we had struck gold and all that remained was the simple task of securing some telephone time or exchanging emails with the blading pioneer from Clermont-Ferrand. As it turns out, the battle had only just begun.
Once again we tried to get in touch with Beaulieu to set up a feature and, after a few weeks, he finally got back to us. The only problem was, he didn’t feel confident conducting the interview in English as he did not believe he would be able to express himself in a way that would accurately depict his personality. It was at this moment that Freddy White, the man behind Frenchy Fries, stepped in and offered to not only translate all of our questions from English to French for Beaulieu’s convenience, but he also generously agreed to translate his answers back to English so we could complete the interview. Mr. White, take a bow, we are eternally in your debt. 29-year-old Beaulieu may not have a lot of footage floating around the internet, but what he has put out is nothing short of pure gold. His Powerhouse edit is arguably one of the finest profiles to come out of the temporary USD European media hub and it includes some tricks that have never before been witnessed on rollerblades. When was the last time you seen someone do a parkour handplant to backside backslide (and fishbrain) on a sketchy drop ledge? Exactly. Add that to the fact that he executes stylish lines and technical grinds with the control of a seasoned professional and it makes for one seriously exciting prospect. The following discourse was almost two years in the making and involved the utilisation of a multi-linguist editor to complete – that’s how much we believe that Allan Beaulieu is the future of rollerblading.
Fakie 360ยบ handplant
How did you discover rollerblading and what year was that? I started skating when I was 12 years old, back in 1995, so it’s been 17 years now. Oh, time flies! I put on my first pair of skates thanks to my brother Normal, who would go to the skatepark every single weekend. On the very first day, I was able to roll down every ramp, although it took me a lot of effort and lots of falls too. It didn’t take long before I purchased my own pair of aggressive skates – Roces Rome – and got hooked on it. I was a turbulent child with a daredevil nature, thus rollerblading provided many occasions to jump everywhere and even put my own life at risk several times. Rollerblading has been a great outlet which allows me to unwind and overcome difficult moments within my family.
I think it’s worth saying that I was greatly influenced by the older generation that used to skate the first park in Clermont, like Pedro, Remy B, Willy and Christou, as well as my old crew with whom we’ve often caused ruckus, be it at the skatepark or at night parties - Hugo, Tibault, Fink, Noé. At that time, I didn’t skate any street. I basically stayed at the skatepark in order to truly learn the basics of inline skating. When did you start skating street? After two years being saturated with that park, it was forced to shut down because of nuisances such as graffiti, music and drugs. I started following my friends in the streets. The new park was scheduled to open in a year so until then we were forced to skate street. It was an unforgettable era, with all its pitfalls, where I decided to buy a video camera in order to film our first stunts on street. It’s from that moment that I started making my first edits with a VCR and old VHS tapes – what a pain!
How would you describe your approach to skating? Just like a lot of skaters from all different generations, I think I was mostly influenced by pro skaters like Dustin Latimer, Dominic Sagona, Louie Zamora and Brian Shima. Over the years, I have tried to refine my own style and skating. After 10 years of intense street skating, I must confess my approach to skating began to change. I think that, for a certain period of time, I really lacked motivation. I had the feeling I would always see the same shit, always skate the same stuff. And of course, lack of money didn’t allow me to travel as much as I would have wanted to. However, these past four years have been like a brutal awakening for me! I was introduced to free running by some friends, and from then on I started mixing it with my skating, like Dustin did back in the day and just like Mathieu Ledoux is doing now. How did you get sponsored? After several years skating around here, I fortunately started meeting new people, making contacts here and there. I want to thank Adrien Anne, who started talking to USD about sponsoring me. He went straight to the point and asked Oli to send me a pair of Sagona Thrones so I could make an edit. Oli was pleased with the result and then, Bam! I officially joined the USD flow team back in April 2009. In the meantime, Mourad Leuchi, a former French pro rider for the Razors team, started developing his clothing company Arcena back in 2007. He decided to create this brand in order to promote different things, like street art, a line of clothes, and a new team, which I have been a part of for over three years now.
Speaking of that, the Arcena team video should be out very, very soon, so be on the lookout for that! Are you working or studying at the moment? I quickly dropped out of university so I could spend all afternoon in the streets with my crew. I later started cook training in order to be able to buy my own video equipment and my first pairs of skates. I have had some moments I won’t ever forget and I have travelled to a bunch of different cities and countries in the past years. I have never had too much money but as I was sincerely passionate, I spent my entire adolescence on my blades. As mentioned above, I bought my first video camera and that also became another passion. Nowadays, I work freelance jobs as a photographer and video editor. How was your experience in Barcelona filming for your Powerhouse edit? It was perfect on every level: people I met, riders, spots, parties, atmosphere etcetera. I had never spent more than two days in Barcelona, and this time I was there for a month of skating! It was nothing short of amazing. I must admit it was a full month of vacation, where all we did was skate all day - what more could I ask for? I was lucky enough to reside at the Powerhouse, and mostly I was staying with big names like Dominic Sagona, Richie Eisler and Dustin Werbeski. They are all colourful characters and truly great people with unique styles that I still admire to this day. Barcelona has countless spots on every corner of every street! To me, it seemed like a giant skatepark! The whole city is crazy. I went back there recently to film for my section in the Arcena 2012 DVD. So we can look forward to more footage of you in the near future? I’ve been filming my section for the new Arcena team DVD for the past four months. I really tried to push myself for this section as
Dark true fish
Handspring to saftey grab gap over ledge to roll in
it’s a great project and the team is actually huge! Considering your unique type of skating, which skaters do you find impressive? The people that really impress me with their skating, their creativity and their technicality are Nils Jansons and Alex Broskow. The riders nowadays are really involved towards progressing and bettering the sport. It is thanks to these people that our sport will earn the image it deserves. I think Chris Haffey, who’s working with Nitro Circus and Sven and Horn, that are involved with Red Bull, are doing a really good job. It’s not the same as our national star Taig Khris, who’s being a jerk on TV and whom I believe tarnished and distorted the image French people have of aggressive skating. What does the future hold for Allan B? I hope I can keep on skating for a long time and move to Montreal with my girlfriend to discover new spots, get closer to some riders and most importantly evolve and grow as a freelance photographer/videographer.
Letting Go With no new Interpol material in the pipeline, frontman Paul Banks embarks upon his second solo album and finally puts his enigmatic alter ego Julian Plenti to rest. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Words: Nina Glencross
With many albums, it is always relatively clear which tracks stand out as the strongest and which are, as they are so affectionately called, the ‘filler’ tracks. For Paul Banks, his new solo album Banks defies this seemingly unwritten rule. “There are no weak songs,” he exclaims, “every single song on this record is on the exact same level as far as quality goes.” A bold claim, some might say, but the Interpol frontman is quick to assert that, “it doesn’t mean they’re all amazing, but if you do like it then you’ll probably agree that there’s no particular song that stands out as the dud.”
Relative to his first solo record, Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper, which was released under the nom de plume in the title, this second solo record, produced by long-term Interpol collaborator Peter Katis, explores more of an “old school rock band” sound. Opener ‘The Base’ was released as the first single from the record and, although it was not Banks’ personal choice, he saw that it was a smart one. “That’s the kind of thing I let the professionals worry about,” he explains.“It’s not a song I would’ve picked as being a single but I think the label just thought it was a good introduction to the music on the record and I would agree.” Putting his alter ego behind him, Banks is releasing this album under his own name. On the surface, an established artist taking on an alias and then discarding it just as quick seems a bit odd. However, when he explains his reasoning behind it, it all strangely begins to make sense. “Basically, I’ve been doing this since the ‘90s, I’ve been a songwriter since I first moved to New York and, before Interpol, when I was in college, I would play shows, just open mic or acoustic solo performances as Julian Plenti.” When Interpol took off, Banks explains that he was keen to join under his stage name but the rest of the band preferred that he stick to his own. Banks agreed but made a promise to himself to one day return to his old Julian Plenti material and bring it to life. Nine years and three Interpol albums later, the time was right and Banks went ahead to record his first solo record. “That record was my retrospective of my early work and obeying that early vision I had as a solo artist using that name”, he recalls. So why Paul Banks now and not Julian Plenti? The answer is surprisingly simple. “None of the songs on the new record were written when I was Julian Plenti, I wrote them as me, now, and so just to be very simple with things, I thought I’d just use my real name.” This more honest and direct approach is also reflected in his lyrics. Taking a step back from the more enigmatic style he’s known for, Banks found this personal expression to be somewhat cathartic. “To me, music is not really the forum for autobiography,” he says, “this is not sappy, confessional folk music – it’s rock music.” But, although Banks claims that “emotions can be a little bit one dimensional”, his new record sees him tap into some raw emotions which proves to be a rather satisfying experience. “With ‘Paid For That’, I feel like I just put my finger on anger,” he explains, “it’s a very simple emotion and a very gratifying one to express with music.” Interpol fans will know all too well, Banks is far from the angriest sounding vocalist and this was one of the first times he has expressed such a raw emotion through both the lyrics and his voice. “It’s very therapeutic having a rage song because just fucking shouting your head off feels good.” Assuming characters has also been very important to him throughout his singing career and can be just as powerful in terms of personal expression. “A lot of the time I’ll use the first person but I’m inhabiting a character”, he explains, “but I think part of why my work speaks to people is that folk can sense that I am also being very honest about my own self when referring to someone in third person.” It’s a bit of a Schrodinger’s Cat scenario as Banks adds, “It’s always been fairly honest and fairly personal and always has not.”
In terms of this new record, Banks explains, “there are instances where I’m absolutely a character, like ‘I’ll Sue You’, and then there are moments where it’s probably pretty much me, like ‘Over My Shoulder’, ‘Paid For That’ or ‘Young Again’.” Lyrics aside, however, Banks explains that the rhythm and the melody are even more important which is why, for him, the music always comes before the lyrics. A poet from a young age, Banks quickly learned after joining Interpol that forcing a poem into a song just doesn’t work. “I realised it would be arrogant to try and force lyrics that don’t flow over a song just because you love the poem so much,” he explains. So whether it’s feeding from Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler’s progression or the development of his own material, the music always inspires his lyrics. However, in some cases the music will not want for lyrics at all. “With some songs, I just feel like the music is trying to say something that’s more subtle and more esoteric and I’m going to bring it too much down to Earth if I put a vocal on it,” he says, “I’d much prefer that it exist only in the musical realm.” Sadly, Banks finds these instrumentals to be very rare and so he holds them to be very precious, “like unicorns”. Banks contains a couple of instrumental tracks including ‘Lisbon’, a song that Banks has been working on for years. “I find that sometimes other people disagree with me about the need to put a vocal on my instrumentals,” he says, “but it’s very cut and dry that some songs want them and some songs don’t, and I love the ones that don’t.” Interpol are set to re-release their debut album Turn On The Bright Lights with bonus material to mark its ten year anniversary but, soon after, Banks will be embarking on a solo UK tour of the new record at the start of 2013 and is incredibly confident that it will go well. “I feel like I’ve made a stronger record, my live band is tighter and we now have two albums worth of material to choose from,” he affirms, “so I’m really confident in the show and I’m very much looking forward to coming over there to play.” And what of Julian Plenti? Well, the question of his return is touch and go. Banks does still have some material from those days but unless he feels inclined to record and release everything he has ever written, it looks like the real Banks is here to stay. “The chances are I’ll be more excited about new material I’m writing, in which case I’ll probably just continue as Paul Banks.”
“I don’t know if there is a specific reason as to why I have had these opportunities,” begins Newsom. “As far as filming goes, I will admit I’ve always been a believer of producing quality over quantity. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it! I’d like to think by taking this approach in my blading, I have gained opportunities. And of course, travelling and networking has helped.”
“At this point, blading seems more mental to me than physical.” — Words: David McNamara Photos: Jaysin Williams
All Figured Out
One of the most fascinating things about rollerblading is the steady stream of new talent that constantly infiltrates our culture and challenges our perception of what is possible on skates. It seems like every year a select few individuals burst onto the scene and garner international praise for their ability to set themselves apart from the current selection of professionals - one such individual is Keaton Newsom. Until 2011, very few people outside of his native Texas were aware of his raw talent and then he just exploded into our collective conscious by putting out breathtaking sections in The City Never Sleeps and Brandon Negrete’s Regardless, as well as impressive cameos in Valo 4 Life and GC.1. How the hell did that happen?
The southern gentleman can be as modest as he likes but anyone who has witnessed his blading first hand or any of the aforementioned video appearances knows exactly why he is receiving a tidal wave of attention at the moment; the man skates with a visible hunger and mixes an artistic eye with a fearless temperament. Each section is filled with well-executed lines, interesting obstacle choices and some seriously rugged stunts, and then there’s his tendency to skate massive ditches that most people would politely decline with a shake of the head and an uncomfortable laugh. In other words, Newsom possesses wild, untamed talent that is simply stunning to witness. Surprisingly, his approach to blading has only resulted in one serious injury of the years, and it wasn’t even as the consequence of doing a trick.
After eight months spent out of commission, Newsom returned with an online edit for boot sponsor Valo in October of 2012 and solidified his reputation as a skater with an impressive trick vocabulary and a tendency to drop into the skinniest, steepest roll ins you could ever hope to find. It seems almost laughable that the Dallas native has not made more visits to A&E over the years, but apparently the biggest hindrance that affects his blading at the moment is simply overcoming his fear and committing to a specific trick that he has envisioned. “Even though the obstacles and tricks you do tend to get bigger, you’re always getting better. Someone once told me, “You have to learn to fall before you learn to skate!” And apart from physically getting better, I feel, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become stronger mentally. At this point, blading seems more mental to me than physical.” Newsom’s other main interests include watching his favourite team the Dallas Cowboys play football, indulging in the odd game of hockey and searching for new music. Most surprisingly, his other main passion in life is work, and he is constantly looking for new ways to enhance his skills and develop his career. When he talks about his job, he displays an enthusiasm that is rare amongst rollerbladers, who generally look at their employment as simply a way to fund their next blade trip. “I am currently working in the wholesale side of the fashion industry,” he says. “I work for a showroom here in Dallas as a sales-representative for multiple different men’s clothing lines. Basically, I sell my lines to the stores. Also, Brian Moore and I just recently launched our new gig that focuses on video marketing in the real estate industry. We’re selling a service that provides a better representation of our client’s property through video that will then serve as a sales tool for them.” One thing that very quickly becomes abundantly clear about Newsom is that he is someone who has clearly got his priorities in order and knows how to get what he wants. He may show a slightly reckless abandon when he blades, but he is extremely driven in every other aspect of his life and unquestionably focused when it
Pornstar to drop into bank
“Basically, I partially dislocated my patella in my knee. After not skating for a couple of weeks, I went out to film a clip with a buddy. I was rolling pretty slow when my front wheel somehow caught a crack and my right leg twisted in an awkward way. I felt a pop and from then on it started aching and swelling up. After multiple different doctors and a month later, I finally saw a chiropractor that ended up accidently popping it back in place. Basically, the cause of the injury was from years and years of not stretching and taking care of my body. Kids, stretch before and after you skate!”
comes to his career. When he outlines his life goals, he leaves little doubt that he will do everything in his power to achieve them. “I plan to further my career in the fashion industry, film cool parts, travel and eventually be a part of the business side of the blading industry. As far as my blading and how far I want to take it, I’m open to opportunity. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango. For now, becoming a better blader, filming and meeting new people that share the same passion are my priorities.” As our conversation continues, we stumble upon the topic of blading as a spectacle, as opposed to a sustainable industry that is still yet to emerge. In terms of blading as public performance, he believes that we are at an exceptional point in our development where it is at its most aesthetically refined. “I think the level of blading is the best it ever has been,” he states. “There is so much control, so many different styles and the skill level is unbelievable. People are making it look cool and it’s definitely visually appealing, even to an outsider’s eye.” However, when asked to offer his opinion on the current state of the industry, it becomes apparent that Newsom is slightly frustrated at the way in which the same professionals have been at the forefront for so long and very little in the way of new icons are emerging. While he shows the utmost respect to those individuals that are the most recognisable faces in our industry, he firmly be
lieves, and rightly so, that the major companies should do more to push their talented amateur riders and promote the next generation of blading idols.
I’m just saying we need to keep our ams motivated. Companies need to show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Show them that there is opportunity if you want it.”
“I think the level of blading will decrease if we do not keep our new generation of bladers motivated,” offers Newsom. “Our industry is not the same as it once was. A lot of our current pros have never had a job and have been able to skate every day since they were in high school. They were given a future and a career which has allowed them to become who I believe are some of the most talented bladers there ever will be.”
The point Newsom raises is simple; if blading companies do not support their undeniably gifted riders and offer them a future they are going to lose them. Every few years, another group of impressive but ultimately expendable newcomers will emerge, generate a wave of hype and then disappear into oblivion when they are faced with the responsibility of supporting themselves financially. After all, the current batch of pro skaters can only last for so long before their bodies are unable perform to such high standards and their motivations become settling down, starting a family and finding a stable income. If we continue to drive all of our up-andcoming talent away, what are we going to be left with when our current crop of icons hang up their skates?
“It’s crucial that we start looking at the future of our sport. Although our current professionals are all very talented and still at the top of their game, we are not taking care of the next generation like we should. I’m not saying we turn a bunch of ams to pro,
Backslide Switch Makio
“The industry was different then compared to now, but regardless of what state our industry is in, we have to keep on truckin’, work with what we have and act on the situations at hand. At some point or another, new pros will emerge and it’s important that we make sure the level of blading, in all aspects, is the best it can be for the sake of our future. I want to make sure that when blading is finally noticed on a larger stage that we are as ready as we ever will be. It’s too sick and too real for it not to be given that respect.“
For fans of Newsom’s fascinating approach to blading, there may not be much of a wait before fresh footage emerges. In addition to filming for the upcoming Valo release V, he is also working on a section for the Revolution team video Decade, as well as a new online edit with close friend and Texas-based filmmaker Brian Moore. Who knows? Maybe, if we are lucky, we can convince him to film a Wheel Scene online profile, too.
WHEE L E SC
Keaton Newson: Alleyoop Makio
When Stefon Alexander aka P.O.S. released his last album Never Better in 2009, he got the word “optimist” tattooed across his knuckles and it seemed to reflect the ideas expressed within the record. The collection of aggressive social commentaries littered with punk rock references explored the evils of capitalism, his distrust of government and sympathies with society’s outsiders, but there was an overriding sense of hope throughout. The album gained a cult following due to the success of blistering singles “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)” and “Optimist (We Are Not For Them)”, the latter focusing on his desire to make a success of his life in order to provide a positive role model for his son. Three years later and P.O.S. is back with his latest offering We Don’t Even Live Here and the tone has changed dramatically. On the surface, the new album suggests that the rapper has mellowed out a little bit. The harsh, self-constructed beats of its predecessor have given way to collaborations with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and beats from German electronic producers Boys Noize and Housemeister. Instead of samples featuring Katherine Heigl screaming in agony, walls of distortion and frantic live drums, the new aesthetic takes in funk, electro and techno, but any notion that the rapper has gone soft in his old age are quickly dispelled upon listening to the lyrics. One thing is glaringly obvious from the outset; this is not an attempt at a commercial record. The hope that Alexander had once displayed has given way to raw anger and his latest offering seems like a call to arms for anyone who has ever been sickened by first world capitalist greed.
It looks like Pissed Off Stef, as he is known to his friends, has not let the birth of his second child distract him from his mission to become self sufficient and live beyond the realm of normal society. As we find out, his game plan has only just began to take shape.
It’s Time For Action
Minnesota’s P.O.S. has given up on the US political system, so now he’s fighting for a different cause. — Words: Louis Flood Photo: Kelly Loverud
Wheel Scene: How has life changed since the release of your previous album? POS: My life is essentially the same but my views on the world have changed a little bit. My style of music has changed a little bit, you know? Three years usually makes a pretty big difference.
How did the collaboration with Boys Noize happen? I just reached out to him. I have been a fan of Boys Noize for a while now, and it was surprisingly easy. I was in Germany playing a show, and I was there for a couple of days. I was somehow able to find him and get invited to his studio, and we pretty much got right to it.
How would you say your outlook on life has changed and how has that affected your new album? I think the sound and the vibe of the last record was a little bit harsher, although the lyrics on this record are way more harsh than the last one. I think I’m coming at this record more as an adult anarchist, instead of a liberal who is really hoping the world gets better. I don’t necessarily believe that playing by the established rules of the world is helping anybody. I think everybody’s just a little bit more fucked than before.
Do you think the techno element will surprise avid followers of your music? After all, you come from a punk rock and hardcore background. I grew up hating it but in the last couple of years I’ve found that you can get heavy, you can get way heavier. Guitars can do one thing, synthesisers can do a completely different thing. I don’t think it’s going to upset fans because the subject matter doesn’t stray far from what they’re used to. It’s still very aggressive music.
I’m guessing you are not particularly optimistic about Barack Obama’s second term as President? I’m not optimistic, I just don’t care. I’m leading an entirely separate life. I’m trying to live outside of the social norms and just live in a way that makes me happy. I’m trying to pay less attention to what they’re doing in Washington. That’s kind of the vibe of We Don’t Even Life Here. It seems like that whole thing is a joke, so we have checked out of there.
Is that a reference to the USA or capitalist society in general? It’s a reference to anywhere where money means more than heart, you know? You have clearly voiced your anti-capitalist views in your music. However, without the money that you earn from shows and record sales, you wouldn’t be able to support your family. That’s the thing. We live in a capitalist society, you can’t just not live there because you don’t want to; you don’t have a choice. I’m just trying to live a happy life and not be controlled by that. If I didn’t have to pay bills, everything I do would be free.
On the topic of your family, how old is your son, now? He is 13 years old. I have a seven-month-old as well, now. So, a lot has changed since the last time we spoke. Yeah. Do you and your son ever talk about your outlook on the world? Since he was very little, I have tried to make sure he is paying attention to more than what they’re saying at school. I’d say he’s more adjusted to reading and knowing what’s actually going on in the world than what his teachers are going to teach him. He’s a real smart kid. He’s at a better reading level than anyone in his class. He’s been reading The People’s History and stuff like that since he was a little kid. I’m raising a little questioning kid that is making life hard for his teachers every day. You do realise it’s going to reach a point soon where he starts defeating you in arguments. Yeah. (LAUGHS) That’s all good. What does he think about the fact that his dad is a full-time rapper and runs his own label? He’s too cool to care about that anymore. I’ve been a rapper his whole life so he’s over that. He used to go to shows and have fun, but he’s 13 now. He’s too cool. He doesn’t want to hang out with his dad.
What other electronic artists have you got into? I like Siriusmo a lot and Macintosh Plus, things like that. So, mainly European stuff, then? Yeah, (LAUGHS) so far. Like I said, I’m kind of a baby in that genre, so it’s just been a couple of years that I have been getting into it. It’s just got to be something that sounds different. Any kind of music that I’m listening to, it’s got to be the best version of it, you know? You made most of the beats on your last record. On this record, how much control did you have over the production? Most of the records I have made have been split production. I make beats and someone else makes beats. On this one, I just picked beats from my crew and my friends, but I kind of had my hand in all them. I only made one beat on this record, but I added stuff to pretty much every other beat on the record. What can we expect from Doomtree in the near future? Mike Mictlan just released Snaxxx Paxxx. Dessa’s working on a full-length right now, and Sims is working on something. Everybody is always working on something at Doomtree. Can we expect another collaboration album featuring the whole crew anytime soon? We probably won’t work on a full collaboration record until sometime next year because everyone is working on their solo shit right now. Touring is clearly a massive part of your approach to music. With the last record you visited the UK on at least three tours. Would you say you prefer making an album or touring with it? I’m comfortable doing both but I love playing shows – that’s why I got into music. I started making my own music because I wanted to play shows. The last time you were in Scotland you were supporting The Bouncing Souls and the crowd were not very kind to you. Have there been any more experiences like that recently? No, it’s usually open arms. It’s just when I do those punk rock shows. I like putting myself in front of a challenging crowd because it’s just kind of fun. I enjoyed touring with the Souls.
Left to right: 2nd – CJ Wellsmore – 1st – Josh Neilson – 3rd – Tristen Richards
Aussie Titles 2012
The land down under has some of the most incredible rollerblading talent in the world, and each year they come together to do battle at one of the country’s most impressive outdoor facilities. — Written: Josh Dick Photos: Hayden Golder
CJ Wellsmore: Fishbrain
The Australian Rollerblading Open, also known as the “Aussie Titles”, is the biggest park skating competition Oz has to offer, featuring bladers from all over the country. This is the biggest gathering of rollers Australia produces each year. This is the time that it’s all brought to the table and an all-out battle takes place for the crown and of course, a year’s worth of bragging rights. It is an opportunity to witness an amazing level of skating, and the bar is raised with each successive year. Aside from the competition, it is also a time for old friends to catch up with each other and share a brew or four. New friendships are made, our community grows and bonds are created that which will most likely stay with us forever. With all this thrown in the mix, it creates a euphoric and adrenaline-hyped atmosphere. The battle ground this year was set at the new Belconnen Skatepark, located in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra. This park provides for some big stunts and great lines. As it is a relatively new facility, only the locals and a handful of Aussie skaters have had the chance to really get some good sessions in before the comp so, for the majority of us, the Friday before the event was a chance to get familiar. I made the trek from Melbourne to Canberra in a convoy with a few other friends and we arrived at Belconnen late afternoon on the Friday. Getting out of the car and walking through the park, saying hello to everyone, it was evident that this was going to be an awesome weekend. It was the best feeling to see familiar faces and new blood already killing it at the park. As it was already pretty late in the afternoon, we skated for about two hours before deciding to head to the backpackers and drop off all our gear. The backpackers was housing pretty much every visiting roller so things got rowdy in the nights to follow.
On the day of the competition, proceedings commenced with an intense hangover and an 11:30 breakfast at the park. By that time, the event organisers Rob Ham, Simon Kelly and Chris Pullar, accompanied by the infamous Dave Jacob and Shane Onus, had already set up the registration desk, PA system and marquee. Most of rollers were already there and a jam session was in full swing as the temperature pushed 30 degrees. Needless to say, most people were wearing sunglasses - and not just because it was sunny. Nursing a hangover and extreme dehydration, I decided to strap my boots on. After about an hour or so, you could already see people sussing out the big tricks and lines which were to follow in the coming heats. At around 12:30, the u13, u18 and girl’s division was underway. It was a 15-minute jam session for all the competitors, which provided some awesome skating and a drop knee the length of the whole park by seven-year-old Alana Boots, the only female competitor, who had made the 10-hour-drive all the way from Melbourne with her dad. After a quick tally up and conversations with judges, the results were as follows: Under 18’s: 1: Daniel Hoehne 2: Angus Wadington 3: John Jacob U18 Best trick: Daniel Hoehne with a long alley-oop fishbrain along the main quarter pipe. Under 13’s: 1: Benni Saines 2: Benny Jacob Girls: 1: Alana Boots
After another jam session, the time came to turn up the heat and start the open division. Each skaters got a “skate ‘til you stack” intro, followed by a ten-minute jam session. The level of skating that was shown in the first heats of the open division was just amazing. Paulie Haack opened things up with a 900 off the kicker to flat, Tristan Richards tried to gap from the first ski jump in the snake bowl to disaster soul on the quarter and Brad Watson did a huge invert 180 monkey plant off the top of the rainbow ledge back into the quarter. On a side note, this was Brad’s 17th Aussie titles and he is still repping hard! The first heats did claim two victims, which was a shame because they were two individuals who many expected to see in the finals. First to go was Rian Arnold with a mach 10 alley-oop fish along the quarter, hitting the start
of the rainbow and taking him straight onto his back and neck. Second to go was Paulie Haack, stacking it on a huge 180 off the top of the rainbow quarter to the flat and spraining his ankle. Even though it was the first heats, it was only a good indicator of what was to come in the finals. From a field of 25 competitors, the judges made the tough decisions and cut it down to a top eight featuring Gavin Drumm, CJ Wellsmore, Tristan Richards, Josh Nielsen, Rhys Bell, Danny Jensen, Oliver Czaja and Hayden Golder.
The Velvet Couch Best Trick went to Josh Nielsen, who shocked everyone with a cork 720 over the first ski jump followed back-toback with a cork 900 over the second ski jump. As soon as Josh landed that line, the crowd went absolutely crazy and he rolled away with an expression of pure happiness. You simply had to be there to understand the feelings that the finals brought to every single person at the park that day. The bar was set and a 15-minute-jam turned into well over 40 minutes of absolutely breathtaking skating. As a judge in the finals, awarding points was the hardest thing to do, and it took all three judges well over 30 minutes to come to a final decision. In the end, Josh Nielsen took the crown of this year’s Australian Rollerblading Champion and VC’s Best Trick Award. The results for the open division came out as follows: Open Finals: 1: Josh Nielsen ($750 + VC’s Best trick award $200 and a sick heavyweight belt) 2: CJ Wellsmore ($350) 3: Tristan Richards ($200) 4: Hayden Golder 5: Gavin Drumm 6: Rhys Bell 7: Oliver Czaja 8: Danny Jensen
Rian Arnold: Alleyoop unity
The after party was an eventful night to say the least. Tom ColeySowry was tricked into thinking a closed hip-hop performance was actually an open mic battle, so he walked up to the two guys doing the show and told them: “Let me know when you’re done.” The kid ended up spitting hot fire and everyone loved it. Then there was the party after the after party that went down in the car park of the backpackers. Needless to say, the sun was rising when we finally decided to call it a night. These are times you will always remember, these are the stories you’ll tell and retell in years to come, these are lifelong connections and bonds you’ll keep for the rest of your life, this is rollerblading.
As soon as the finals started, huge stunts took place all over the course, new lines were created and ridiculous tricks were thrown down with a do-or-die mentality from all involved. The atmosphere in the crowd was electric, from the moments of silence as someone was skating up to massive hammer to the explosion of the crowd after they laced it. The vibe was amazing. No-one will forget Gavin Drumm’s massive 360 transfer from the snake bowl to quarter, then slipping out and cess sliding underneath the metal ledge, or Rhys Bell taking his trick outside the park with a massive 540 over the guard rails onto the walkway to the car park. CJ Wellsmore back royalled all the way along the quarter to 540 off the top of the rainbow to flat. Tristan’s 1080 out of the vert bowl of death was another highlight.
Fresh from a two-year stint playing alongside Miles Kane, Eugene McGuinness decided to go for the jugular. Musically, lyrically – he threw it all to the wall. And the swaggering pomp of second album The Invitation to the Voyage certainly isn’t a disappointment. A dark, dangerous counterpart to the twee pop of his debut, he definitely sounds like he’s done some growing up.
Formed out of a collaboration with producers Clive Langer and Dan Carey, it’s a perfect mash-up of the sounds McGuinness holds dear - equal parts rock ’n’ roll band and pop sass. From the hard-candy polish of tracks like ‘Harlequinade’ to the souped-up pop of ‘Sugarplum’, he navigates us through a labyrinth of sticky nightclubs and morning commutes (“for tomorrow we will rush and crush on the underground”), peppering his nighttime tales with observational candour that cuts through the sonic glamour and polished production. This is a man with his head screwed on, taking us through the world as he knows it. Buckle in for the ride.
Game for Anything
Eugene McGuinness spent almost two years preparing his new record and, with a little help from two highly influential UK producers, he is finally happy enough to unleash it on the world. — Words: Henry Wilkinson Photo: Dean Rogers
Wheel Scene: We’re here to discuss The Invitation to the Voyage. It’s very much a change in sound – you’ve left the acoustic stuff behind, it’s louder, slicker and more in your face. What was your intention with the record? Eugene McGuiness: Well, those were the intentions really. I wanted like a modern, pop record. Obviously using the term ‘pop’ means a few different things to people but it’s still my songwriting and everything. And that in itself has changed a bit over a couple of years. I wanted everything to be this shiny, sort-of upbeat record, y’know? I wanted it to sound good in the car or the club; I wanted to make music that was a bit of a fun thing. Working on it over a period of two years – how did you feel about releasing it? Did you feel reluctant to release it because you’d been working on it for such a long time? Not at all. It was spread over a period of about a year-and-a-half, where I was busy – I was touring in Miles Kane’s band – and it was pieced together on days off when I was in London. It didn’t take a long time to record it, but it was spread over a long time. It gave me a bit of scope, although I was never reluctant to release it. Actually, I was really up for it.
Why did you decide to put your own projects on hiatus and work with Miles Kane? What effect did that have on the material? I’d already done about a third of the record before I got on board with that tour. To be honest, my instant reaction was to carry on and finish the record. At the time, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself about the whole thing and I kind of did a double-take. I wanted to go away and distance myself from it a bit. So it was nice to go off and enjoy that side, touring around with your mate. It gave me scope. I was able to think about what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away. It became a protection from what I was thinking, actually, to keep it from being too intense. At the time, I would have just rushed the record. It was an important record for me and it would have been a blueprint for the direction I take in the next couple of years, so I needed to spend time on it. The only pressure coming from anywhere would have been me. And I wanted to make sure it was ready whenever it was actually ready. The record was a collaboration with two producers Clive Langer (Costello, Morrissey) & Dan Carey (MIA, Hot Chip) with two considerably different approaches. There’s an indie element but a considerable pop sensibility too. Was that a conscious choice? I worked with Clive very closely, and because of the Morrissey/Bowie/ Costello thing he was really helpful on that kind of ‘songwriting’ thing. He really knew how to crack the whip and steer me down new paths. He helped me visualise the songwriting side, and what I wanted to say with the material, because I had a lot of material and a lot of things that I was considering. Clive was brilliant at the dynamic of getting a band in a room - getting all that together is what he does best. But then Dan was very helpful in that he knew that I wanted it to be something more than just a ‘band’ record, I wanted to be a groove-based, shiny thing – and Dan had all the toys. It was a lot of fun working with Dan as well, but just two very different things. Combining the work I did with both has helped to make it something sonically quite unique.
Much has been made of your writing being ‘intrinsically British’ storytelling – through its references and figures of speech. Like on ‘Sugarplum’, the lyrics run “the wheels on the bus go round and round”. What influences you as a songwriter? Like a lot of people, I grew up on The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan and Neil Young. That sort of songwriting is ingrained in my childhood; they’re records that I would listen to with my parents. But then, there’s modern pop – all those dodgy things that you listen to when you’re a teenager, growing up. It’s a mish-mash of all those things. Because there’s so much, I can’t point to one particular thing. Songwriting is just something that I do every day and it’s a very normal, natural thing for me. I don’t feel good if I go through a period of time without writing. I think it’s quite a personal process as well. It never feels like I go down a certain path. Through writing about something I can then find out what I think, explore things, you know? When did you begin to write songs? About 16, I think. As soon as I was learning chords on the guitar I was trying to do a bit of writing. It all came together at the same time. When you think about it, I’ve been writing for ages. How has the material been received live, especially given that the material is a big departure from what you’ve done before? Have you noticed a change in the audience? With this album, I visualised the whole thing. I pictured the gigs being like an upbeat thing. I wanted the record and the live shows to emit this vulnerability, and I wanted to get a sort of happy chaos. And that’s what these shows are about. They’ve been incredible. The energy is amazing, I can’t complain. It’s what I’m living for at the moment. You do a record so you can play the shows. What’s next from Eugene McGuinness? Are you continuing to write on the road or are you just going to tour this and then start afresh? I’ve got my eye on what’s going to happen next but that’ll be a good few months away. When I do another single, we’re going to be touring and we’re just going to embrace this little pocket of time. In the next few months, I want a lot more people to hear it and the record to do well. And then there will be new stuff. It’s a little different, the new stuff, it kind of takes certain elements from this period but switches some stuff up as well. For now though, it’s all about this record.
Back to Where it all Began
Brian Freeman recently moved to Oakland, his place of birth, after spending most of his life living in Texas and is slowly coming to terms with his new surroundings. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Words: David McNamara Photos: Bander Saleh
Over the past several years, Brian Freeman has spent most of his time on the road. He has dedicated a large chunk of the last two on extensive video tours masterminded by Adam Johnson, one for CHARG!NG and one for the latest Straight Jacket video Pariah. Living out of a backpack and spending vast quantities of his time in a cramped tour van with a bunch of fellow bladers has become a way of living for the up and coming blader. In addition to filming both video parts, major contests appearances have also taken him from his native Texas to various cities across the USA, but that didn’t make the news that his family were selling their home and moving back to the place where he was born, Oakland, California, any easier to take.
It seems a little strange that something like moving home would be an issue for the Street Artist pro team rider. After all, he surely doesn’t spend very much time sleeping in his own bed. Every month he finds himself in a new city filming for a project or competing at an event and if his video project Rolling With The World ever comes to fruition, he will be spending even less time in the comfort of his own home. While discussing the ambitious project that he conceptualised with close friend Jordan Smith, Freeman is the first to admit that it is an endeavour that is very much in its infancy, but it is one that he has put all his faith in and believes it is something that could really capture people’s imaginations if it is given a chance to blossom.
“It was a rough start at first because things weren’t going as planned,” he begins. “My family trying to find a place to live and trying to get settled in took a lot longer than we thought but, thankfully, Billy O’Neill and John Bolino and a few of their homies had just moved out here as well, so I wasn’t in the dark too much with not knowing anyone out here.”
“My first idea for the show was for bladers to have something we all could relate to, which myself and a good friend of mine back in Texas had put together. Basically, we shot a trailer as a pitch for the show with the idea that we would travel around the world, finding interesting stories of bladers and taking the time to live in their shoes for a minute. We are still working on that.”
It would seem reasonable to assume that Freeman, or BFree as he is known to his close friends and bladers across the world, would be able to quickly acclimatise to any environment, as he always presents a laidback persona that is constantly smiling and brimming with enthusiasm. However, he never really believed that his family were serious when they informed him that they were planning to leave Austin.
This ambitious venture sounds as though it would take up a lot of time and effort to organise, but it hasn’t prevented Freeman from undertaking another mammoth mission that will also serve as an attempt to dig below the surface of rollerblading as a mere spectacle and expose the culture and personalities behind it. His second brainchild involves WRS organiser, videographer and all-round industry go-to-guy Daniel Kinney.
“My family wanted to make the move at first and I didn’t believe them ‘til the house was empty and the U-Haul truck was packed that’s when it really kicked in that I was really moving 1,748 miles back to the place where I was born.”
“My other project that will soon be finished is an idea Daniel Kinney and myself and a few others put together. This show about going on adventures, blading, meeting people and trying new things along the way, I call it Road To Bfree. To be honest, it’s something different and you know people are gonna love it or hate it. Either way, I’m not gonna stop being myself and spread the message of blading.”
Freeman has been living in Oakland for a while now and after securing a job at a medical marijuana facility in San Francisco, forming a friendship group and familiarising himself with his new surroundings, it seems that he is finally becoming comfortable with his new home. “Now, looking back, I can’t believe it’s even been this long but it feels like I just moved a few months ago. I’m more comfortable getting around, meeting people and knowing where I am and getting used to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system and going to San Francisco back and forth. It’s pretty cool. There’s always something to do - you just get up and go.” Once culture shock finally subsided, the laidback blader with a penchance for weed has found that life on the west coast is not too bad. He is now positioned closer to the base of two of his sponsors, Valo and Roller Warehouse, and he is within commuting distance of the Bay Area, one of the most progressive rollerblading scenes in the country. Despite the fact that he may have struggled to find his feet initially, BFree admits that Oakland is beginning to feel like home. “Trying to get over the feeling of being a visitor or a tourist or some shit took a minute,” he advises. “Other than that, the weather, weed and women are the only things to change really - everything else is pretty much the same as it would be in Texas. One difference would be how expensive it is out here in the west than it is back in Austin. Oh, and they don’t have the death penalty.”
Freeman has only been in the rollerblading spotlight for a few years after becoming close friends with Adam Johnson, Alex Broskow and various other members of the Straight Jacket collective, but he has already released a selection of impressive online edits and video sections. However, his attempt to film a part for Adam Johnson’s Pariah didn’t exactly go to plan and the result was simply a collection of clips that he managed to scramble together after injury prevented him from completing the profile to his full potential. “There was a period of just back luck,” states Freeman. “I fractured the tibia bone in my knee before we started filming so for the whole section I had to skate with a knee brace. Blading against time is never fun for me and the feeling of not being able to get everything you want done is even worse - like a painter not being able to use every colour to paint.” His Pariah section may not have highlighted all Freeman has to offer as a skater, but it did clearly show why so many brands have chosen to have him represent their products. He has a unique blading style that is not too dissimilar to a ‘70s pimp swaggering down the street. He just looks so confident on his skates and every time he lands a trick you can see the excitement in his face, and it’s exactly this kind of enthusiasm that this sport needs in order to encourage young children to get involved and give it a try. According to Freeman, there is much more to come, beginning with his footage in the upcoming Valo team video V. When asked how filming is going, he simply responds: “People are really going to love it.”
Aside from the undoubtedly time-consuming task of executing two video projects and filming for the upcoming Valo video, Freeman adheres to a pretty relaxed way of life. He enjoys good food, riding his bike around the city and chasing after the ladies. When he is not destroying himself for the sake of another Adam Johnson release, he can be found taking things in his stride and relishing the little things that bring a smile to his face.
Since moving to the Bay Area, Freeman has acquired a new friend to aid him in his quest to cover more of his skin in ink. He goes by the name of Austin Barrett, who you may recognise as the artist behind one of Valo’s recent T-shirts and the gruesome designs that accompany Brandon Negrete’s last blading release Regardless. He has only provided Freeman with a couple of tattoos so far, but it seems it is only a matter of time before he adds to the collection.
“I try to make every day as enjoyable as I can, even if it’s a small thing like if a beautiful woman waves hello or says goodbye – that will make my day that much better. I got blessed with a great job with amazing people in San Francisco called Bernal Heights, they do a lot of positive things for the blading community - shout out to the BHC crew! If I’m not working, I’m out shreddin’, if not shreddin’, I’m just kickin’ it, trying to figure out the next adventure. “
“I want to give Austin Barrett a shout out for doing my most recent tattoo off a voodoo dream catcher that is featured in his first interview in the new Haitian magazine. Word to the Haitian dudes! Having Austin learning how to tattoo was sick to be a part of - he is only getting better.”
Aside from blading, BFree has another major passion in his life – tattoos. The guy has over 30 of them at last count and the number is steadily rising thanks to the fact that he happens to know a couple of tattoo artists. “I have a really good friend back in Texas who is a tattoo artist and owns a clothing brand called Golden Empire - he did three quarters of the work on my body. I think everyone has this opinion about tattoos because of what they see in the magazines and TV, you know? ‘He’s got tattoos, he must be one of those thugs.’” The ink addict got his first tattoo when he was 17 years old and it remains the most precious one in his collection due to his sentimental value. “It reads: “PATH OF HEART”. I got it across my chest and it means a lot to me because it was something that my father told that I never forgot. It explains how the journey in this life will be different paths and forks in the road that you will have to face, but no matter what you do, never walk off your path of heart. You got to stay true to yourself, keep chasing dreams and let nobody tell you anything different. Each one of my tattoos is just a bookmark or just chapters in my book of life. Whoever said tattoos don’t hurt ain’t telling you the whole truth!”
“We are still evolving and learning. It’s a process that people don’t need to overlook or take too lightly because these are the most important times, right now. People are getting motivated to try new things, if it’s a new trick or a new editing software or a different concept, it’s all for the love of blading. Who gives a shit about what a hater thinks or says? If people keep worrying about shit like that they won’t go anywhere in life. All I want to keep seeing is the industry grow and keep working together, nobody cutting people’s throats just to get ahead in the lunch line, ya know? We’re all in this and the more people understand that the better off our future will be.”
Thanks I’d like to say thank you to my mother and Father, Zack Gutweiler, Dench, Shannon Rodgers, J-Bird, Jason Howard, Adam Johnson, Jon Julio, the L$T family, Eazy (GoldenEmpire), Z-Lee, Dorian Deshay, LLoyder, Rahim, Korim, Billy , Bolino, Johnny B , Texas and to every woman I’ve ever loved.
BFree’s approach to the blading industry, and the culture as a whole, is pretty similar to his outlook on life – enjoy things for what they are and let them take their natural course. He is more than aware that there is a long way to go before rollerblading can be looked at in terms of a sustainable lifestyle for a professional and a profitable venture for a collection of companies that are still trying to find their feet, but he is in this for the long run and doesn’t understand why so many people feel the need to rush its development.
If you ever see Bfree on the street or at a blading contest, ask him to talk you through a some of his ink – it’s guaranteed to be a long conversation.
Disaster back fastslide
Marc Moreno is no longer the respected underdog of the European blading scene, he is now a fully-fledged Spanish icon – and he’s got a pro skate to prove it. — Words: David McNamara Photos: Chris Dafick and Ivan Malvido
Spain may be one of the premier blading locations in the Europe, with exceptional street skating destinations including Barcelona and Madrid, but it has not produced a plethora of iconic bladers over the years. In fact, since the ‘90s, it is possible to name the ones that have made an impact on an international scale on one hand, which is why Marc Moreno’s rise to cult status has been such an endearing journey for anyone that has followed him from his humble beginnings.
The UK first witnessed Moreno’s skills in the Mo-Entivision video Reflections in Concrete back in 2003 when he was rocking baggy sweatpants and Razors skates, and known simply as “Enanoh”. Since then, the Barcelona-based blader has ridden for some of the biggest companies in the industry but his latest boot sponsor, Shima Skate Manufacturing, finally seems to be the perfect fit. This was clarified earlier this year when, after years of dedication to his craft, Moreno was awarded his first ever pro skate. Many consider this to be an accolade that is long overdue, especially considering anyone that could grind a few handrails was awarded a signature boot during rollerblading’s boom period, but Moreno regards it as a delightful surprise. “Like a dream come true,” he declares. “I never really thought that was going to happen but it did, and with the raddest company I could ever imagine. I couldn’t ask for any better.“ Aside from the personal satisfaction Moreno felt upon realising that he would achieve what many believe to be the pinnacle of a pro skater’s career, he was happy that it finally provided clarification that he was in fact a professional to all of those who questioned his decision to dedicate his life to rollerblading. Apparently this was the moment when many of his family and friends outside of rollerblading realised that becoming a professional was actually a realistic possibility. “It’s a good way to make people take you more seriously - like family, old friends or people who know you’ve been skating for a while - but it hasn’t made me feel like it was the result of all the years skating. I’d still be doing the same without a pro skate. What changed for sure is that it made me realise what I chose to do was the right thing to do.” His parents were particularly proud when they received news of their son’s first ever signature model, as they had previously been sceptical about his chosen lifestyle. “They take me more seriously since my skate was released and realise not everybody lives the same way, and that there are other legitimate ways to live than the average person – taking the path less travelled.” This latest highlight in his blading career comes as no surprise. Moreno has been at the forefront of European blading for almost a decade and there is not a single person within this industry that is not aware of his talents and if there are, they probably don’t belong. Couple this with the fact that he is incredibly humble and has the kind of gentlemanly persona that mothers go weak at the knees for, and you have got yourself one fine specimen of a pro rollerblader – it’s almost enough to make your physically sick.
While he may have reached a milestone that many aspiring pro skaters can only dream of, Moreno is the first to admit that not much has changed in his day-to-day life – he still straps on his blades at every opportunity he gets and searches through the streets of whatever city he finds himself in hope of a new obstacle or a great clip opportunity. The only real difference is that it has offered Moreno the opportunity to get more involved with the business side of the blading industry. “Right now, I’m skating as much as I can,” he begins. “I’m not actually working in any place, but I’ve been more involved in rollerblading than ever before – behind the scenes. I’m also about to start a masters degree in motion graphics.” With further education lying ahead in the not-too-distant future, it would be reasonable to assume that Moreno might find himself without the opportunity to blade as much as he does at present but, if the past 12 months is anything to go by, that is highly unlikely. Since last June, the Barcelona native has produced three exceptional full-length online profiles for his various sponsors and had sections in Brandon Negrete’s Regardless, Jonas Hannson’s Traitement and Adam Johnson’s latest video, Pariah. That’s a pretty impressive body of work for a guy that has more than his fare share of commitments to take care of, but he’s not done yet. “I have started filming for Negrete’s next video,” advises Moreno, “which I don’t really know much about, but it’s coming – and maybe do a Balas Perdidas thing.” “The Balas Perdidas thing” he is referring to is the online video project featuring fellow Barcelona native Adria Saa and Shredweiser owner and newest BCN resident Chris Dafick. This has so far resulted in five instalments, the highlight of which being the Balas Perdidas Tour 2012 edit that showed some of Spain’s best bladers tearing through Valencia, Madrid, Alicante, Gibraltar and, of course, Barcelona and destroying everything that they stumbled upon. Considering some of their affiliates have already acquired Balas Perdidas tattoos, it seems more than likely that this might become somewhat of a movement throughout Spain. According to Moreno, it was quite an experience: “It’s been sick as fuck. 20 days on the road with my friends, skating all the southern Spanish/Mediterranean coast, living like gypsies and surviving like animals – pretty wild.” While Moreno is cruising around the country with his nearest and dearest, he is meticulously collecting clips for the latest blading project. The attentive among you may notice that he was one of the producers credited on the recent Ground Control DVD, although he has since parted way to join the ranks of Billy O’Neill, Alex Broskow and John Bolino on the Create Orignals team, and in May he released an exceptional online edit to document the transition. In addition to Create Originals and SSM, Moreno also rides for Benny Harmanus’ wheel company The Chimera Conspiracy. It would seem that it is only a matter of time before more signature products bearing his name appear in the shops. After all, you need a pro frame and a pro wheel to go along with those blades – it would be rude not to. Moreno is back living in Barcelona after a brief sabbatical in Toledo. He thought he would appreciate the change of scenery but apparently it just didn’t have the same allure as his home city. “I tried to see how it was to live somewhere else, far from Barcelona, but couldn’t deal with it,” he admits. But now that he is back on home turf, it is business as usual and, along with his further education endeavours, Moreno will be doing everything he can to promote his sponsors and give admirers of his blading
skills something to feast their eyes upon. When asked what his plans for the foreseeable future consisted of, he simply responds: “Keep shredding as much as my body will let me, travel a little more with the Balas Perdidas and see what life brings me. I have learned not to plan too much and just surf the wave.”
Soul to gap
Beyond that? “To be honest, I’m at the point where I just want to live and not care too much. One thing I know for sure is that I want to help SSM be where it deserves to be.”
Stale fakie 360
Meet the Glasgow-based synth pop trio that are currently riding a wave of hype and internet speculation based on just one song. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Words: Marianne Gallagher Photo: John Speirs
It’s pretty difficult to know what to write about Chvrches, and they probably like it that way. Eschewing the over-promoted, over-excited tactics of bands that let it all hang out on Facebook; they’re instead content to let the sound they produce speak for itself. And even with only one track available to the public and a handful of gigs to their name, they’re easily the hottest thing in Glasgow right now. Composed of members of Twilight Sad, Aerogramme and Blue Sky Archives, Chvrches are bringing a fearless pop sensibility which has been sadly absent from Scottish music. On a tidal wave of publicity, they stormed their first (official) gig at a sold-out Art School in July. They’d taken over the place for the two days before, honing and refining their live show until it was absolutely perfect. And let’s not forget, that was all on the strength of one particular song. ‘Lies’, the first single available through indie-pop wunderbrand Neon Gold, was like a synth-sparkled punch to the gut. Martin Doherty, Iain Cook and gamine front woman Lauren Mayberry may have one song on release, but they definitely have more than one string to their bow. Already feted by bloggers and industry insiders, they’re more than worthy of rubbing shoulders with Neon Gold alumni Passion Pit and Marina & the Diamonds. They’ve taken a synthy blueprint and turned it on its head, crafting lucid, sharp electro-pop with an unapologetic Glasgow accent. Wheel Scene caught up with Lauren to get the scoop on what they’re about and what the future will hold.
So, here are Chvrches. Come worship.
Your (official) debut gig at Art School was a bit of a turning point. How did it feel to have that amount of buzz at such an early gig? We are very lucky that the first show was so well attended and well received, but I think getting caught up in any buzz or hype is pretty counterproductive. If you believe the press, good or bad, then you’ll lose sight of what you’re actually doing, so we’re pretty careful to keep out of that for the time being. How did the tracks go down live? We’ve put a lot of thought into the live show, wanting to make it as engaging and visual as possible, and we’ve been lucky that the response has been so good so far. There’s nothing more boring than going to a show and watching an Ableton wizard fiddling away behind a laptop. Sure, that’s a skill, but it’s really dull to watch, so we were keen to play as much of it live as possible, and only have beats and certain samples which could not be played live left on the backing track. It’s interesting because there’s still quite a lot of mystery surrounding the band and only one track available to listen to online. It’s a real contrast to the over-promoted, marketed tactics of most bands trying to break through. Was that a conscious decision? We’re hardly evil marketing geniuses, but I think there is something to be said for having a little mystique. I remember finding WU LYF really intriguing when they came out because people knew so little about them or where they had come from.
Wheel Scene: How did Chvrches meet and form? Lauren: Martin did session work for Aerogramme, one of Iain’s previous bands, so they have known each other for years and started writing together in late August of last year. Iain recorded my other band, Blue Sky Archives, at Chem 19 last September and a few weeks later asked me to try some vocals on the tracks they had already written. Since then, we’ve just been writing and recording at Iain’s little project studio in the southside of Glasgow.
For such a new band, you’ve received an overwhelming amount of attention. Are you taking the hype in your stride? Does the increased expectation bring unwanted pressure? We’re really lucky that people are interested in us so early in our time together as a band but, in a way, that does bring a lot of pressure to prove that you actually have something to offer. We’re concentrating on writing and developing the live show further. Hype is something projected onto you by other people, so the more you can avoid believing the things you hear, probably the better – for your music, and your own sanity. The Emperor’s New Clothes and all that.
And why the name ‘Chvrches’? It took us a while to come up with something we all liked (the old adage ‘all the good ones are taken’ sometimes seems to be true) – but we all agreed on this one as it’s fairly mysterious. And easy for folks to spell – that was Martin’s one criteria.
Can we expect an album from Chvrches any time soon? And what about future live dates? We have a bank of songs written and recorded but are planning to write until the end of the year so we have a decent back catalogue to choose a record from. How we will release it and when, I have no bloody idea.
You’ve all played in noted bands before, but they’re all really different from the sound of Chvrches. Why the change in musical direction? It wasn’t a cynical move away from more guitar heavy music – it was mainly informed by the kind of music we were all listening to, and wanting to write something which people could hook into and dance to at shows. How would you describe Chvrches’ sound? Who do you consider to be your influences? This question is always a bit tricky, but I’d say electro pop with a retro feel. The music we listen to is quite eclectic and hopefully that comes across in the music. The beats are definitely hip hop influenced – I personally love A Tribe Called Quest and Martin is a huge fan of guys like Drake and A$AP Rocky – but there is a definite love of classic synth music. Vince Clark. And Robyn - everyone loves Robyn.
Words: Henry Wilkinson
First catching our attention with the single ‘Tell Me (what’s on your mind)’ last year, LA four-piece Allah-Las produce classic retro pop that is as authentic as the surfer lifestyle they lead. The Byrds, Arthur Lee, Psychedelic Nuggets, these are the obvious comparisons, and fully justified for a band whose self-titled debut album achieves that golden mix of swagger, style and sentimentality. But for a sound that seems so natural to them, it appears the band have come a long way since their formation four years ago and that first disastrous gig. “Spencer and Matt were both working in Amoeba records in Hollywood and they met Pedro,” tells guitarist and lead singer Miles. “Spencer and Pedro started hanging out and playing guitar and then they invited Matt to play the drums - Matt had never actually played the drums before this band. After they had a few rehearsals, they figured none of them really wanted to sing and they gave me a call. We played our first gig two weeks later for a Halloween party. We didn’t have any songs and I didn’t have any lyrics, so I just mumbled whatever came to mind over the music we were playing.”
Not only did Allah-Las not have any songs, they also initially had quite a different sound. “When we first started, we were really into The Gories and The Cramps and we played louder, more abrasive punk rock kind of stuff. When you first start playing live, playing loud feels like you’re playing well - which is not necessarily the case.” Thankfully, over the course of those four years, the band have written plenty of songs, with lyrics and everything, and have honed their sound to a much more subtle, stylish ‘60s slant - but don’t mention the term ‘revivalist’. “People come up with labels for everything. I, personally, am not a big fan of the revivalist label. All we’re doing is drawing on the last 50-60 years for our inspiration; we’re not trying to bring back only ‘60s music. A lot of our song writing and chord structures are more based in ‘80s and ‘90s pop but people automatically think ‘60s, Nuggets, blah, blah, blah. It’s understandable but there’s a lot more to it than that.” This is probably a good point to retract that initial Nuggets comparison. “There’s a lot being made today that, to me, sounds like the ‘80s but I wouldn’t classify that as revivalist.” Simply put, if there was music recorded in the ‘60s that was exactly like Allah-Las, there would be no need to listen to Allah-Las over their original musical idols. Fortunately, it’s tough work to find an album quite as consistent and diverse as their debut. Tracks like ‘Catamaran’, ‘Don’t You Forget it’ and the snarling schizophrenic ‘Long Journey’ (admittedly a cover of The Roots’ 1965 track) resurrect garage surf spirits with plenty of maracas, tambourine and, more importantly, an effortless charisma similar to modern groups like The Black Lips or Black Angels. Elsewhere the band show much more of a sentimental side, not surprising given all four members of the band split up with their respective girlfriends prior to writing the album. ‘Vis-à-vis’ is an honest ode to past love, while the bossanova tinged instrumental ‘Ela Navega’ shows the band’s diversity. All the tracks are captured with a masterfully-understated retro production that resists the current trend for over-used lo-fi techniques and reverb. In other words, this is the real deal.
“All our stuff is recorded to two-inch tape. The entire studio we recorded in (The Distillery), everything in there is old - from the microphones to the boards to the tape machine. The first album is very much a product of the space we recorded in, the equipment we used and the fact we worked with (LA producer) Nick Waterhouse.” Waterhouse, described elsewhere as LA’s answer to Mark Ronson, has certainly succeeded in capturing a glorious retro sound that is nevertheless not regressive. His influence on their music is clear, but probably not as clear as the surfer lifestyle these guys lead: “We love to camp, we love to surf, we love to travel. I drive a 77 VW camper and we’ll take that thing up to the hills or up to a beach somewhere and spend a lot of time with nature. We like hanging out and partying and having a good time. If that’s what being a musician means for us then that’s what we aspire to, that’s why we started the band.” The beaches, the surf, the city’s rich musical history, the prospect of partying in Allah-Las’ camper van - it’s enough to make anyone want to get the first plane over.
Critics and fans were unanimous that Violet Cries was an accomplished first effort, but the band simply viewed it as a catalogue of their output up until that point and slightly fragmented as a singular body of work. “The first album had been written over the lifespan of the band,” begins Daniel Copeman. “There were a couple of songs that were written a month before they were recorded and some had been written two years before, so it’s hard for it to feel that cohesive.”
“We’ve got a disturbing amount of links to the blading world, which I don’t think a lot of people would assume about us.”
Words: David McNamara
Starting From Scratch
It has been almost two years since Brighton-based indie rock trio Esben and the Witch released their debut album Violet Cries and prompted a wave of critical acclaim that resulted in the group being shortlisted for BBC’s Sound of 2011 and Q Magazine’s Next Big Thing. Their introductory long player was a collection of macabre tales about the darker side of human existence, told through Rachel Davies’ disarming vocals and framed by tribal drums, walls of distortion and haunting looped samples. However, during interviews shortly after the album was released, it seemed that the group were already tired of their first record and ready to move on.
After extensive touring across Europe and US, Esben and the Witch went straight back into the studio and commenced work on their sophomore album. Despite the fact that their debut is what established the group as one of the most interesting acts in the UK alternative scene, they consider this to be their first real chance to show what they are capable of in terms of piecing together a structured collection of songs. “Writing a second album is always more difficult because there is more expectation,” says Copeman. “When you are making a second album, you know you are making an album. No band, when they first start, think, “We’re writing an album.” You’re just writing songs and then they become your first album. The second album is the first time you get the opportunity to really put something together that has a singular idea. It’s a statement of intent.”
There is little doubt that their latest offering, Wash The Sins Not Only The Face, outlines the band’s prerogative to create tense, disarming indie masterpieces. In short, it’s essentially a development of the style displayed on Violet Cries, but the arrangements are tighter and there is a much more unified sound throughout the record. This might have something to do with the fact that Rachel Davies is now the sole lyricist for the group and Copeman has decided to pick up another instrument. “I have taken on playing live drums,” he says. “Rachel has come on as a guitarist and she’s playing a lot more bass. We’re just trying to make ourselves a bit leaner and add more live presence. “ In order to create a more cohesive album, the trio locked themselves in a cottage in the East Sussex countryside for a week at a time on three separate occasions. “We put a ban on writing while we were on the road until we could sit down and do it together. We felt it was important that the new album was all written at the same time. This time, we could actually sit down and say, “’What themes do we want to explore?’” And what particular themes have they chosen to explore on their latest effort? Well, it’s funny you should ask. “At the time, duality and the idea of choices, mirror images and doppelgangers were all things we were intrigued by. The title for the new album comes from a Greek palindrome. Musically and lyrically, we were able to go back to this core idea hopefully that gives it a lot more focus this time.” If this all sounds suspiciously high brow, that’s because it is. One song in particular was influenced by the Salvador Dali painting The Metamorphosis of Narcissus and originally included lyrics that were directly taken from the poem Dali wrote to accompany the work of art that is until they couldn’t get permission to use it from his estate. “Luckily, I think the new version is better, otherwise it would just be frustrating!” Another track was inspired by the Vladimir Nabokov book Despair. “It’s about a man that’s convinced he’s met his doppelganger and it’s an incredible book,” advises Copeman. “Someone said to me recently, ‘If you don’t want people to think you are Goths, why did you call a song Despair?’ I was like ‘No! It doesn’t mean that!’” In addition to their love of art and literature, the group are also heavily influenced by classic film soundtracks including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This hardly comes as a surprise considering their music sounds like the score to a sinister period film set in a harsh English countryside, with an unforgiving climate that assaults its inhabitants with torrential rain and fierce winds that bite at any exposed flesh. “I really like the idea that an album allows you to mine into your own headspace. I like listening to albums on headphones when I am on the train and drifting away into the world of that album.”
In the past, Esben in the Witch have come across as three like-minded control freaks with a singular vision of what they want their group to be. They have always been extremely particular over the group’s image, with singer Rachel Davies’ devising the treatment for the staggering ‘Marching Song’ music video and Copeman self-producing most of their output to date. However, in 2011, they worked with Tom Morris on the Hexagons EP and were so happy with the relationship that they brought him in to produce their new album. “It was good to have an external objective opinion in places,” offers Copeman. “I think our past efforts to control everything was probably quite a defensive attitude, which came from not being as confident as musicians and individuals. I think we kept everyone out because we weren’t confident in letting them see our working process because we didn’t think we were that competent.” If you picked up the new Esben and the Witch album by chance and had no prior knowledge of the band, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon a death metal CD. The album artwork is possesses a certain element of menace and the song titles aren’t particularly subtle in their malice: ‘Deathwaltz’, ‘Putting Down The Prey’ and ‘Smashed To Pieces In the Still Of The Night’ suggest an orgy of mutilation and suffering. Taken in the wrong context, it all appears to be the hallmarks of a bunch of sickos. When asked about the themes explored in their lyrics and the potentially violent connotations, Copeman reasons: “Everybody considers the more morose elements of life and if you don’t have the ability to explore those feelings then surely that can only be unhealthy. We’re all into the heavier spectrum of music, particularly the ideas and rhetoric around it, so I like that it gives that impression.” It may surprise many fans of Esben and the Witch to find that the group are linked with the UK rollerblading industry. Copeman once shared a flat with close friend and respected blading photographer Adam Kola, who is responsible for some of their early promotional photos, and the group’s latest T-shirt was designed by Razors UK rider and gifted artist Dan Stirling. The connection does not end there, as the music video to accompany current single ‘Deathwaltz’ was produced by former UK Rolling Awards Filmer of the Year Sim Warren. When asked why they chose to enlist the services of the man behind the Enigma Team Video, Copeman responds: “He’s a friend of ours from Brighton and his eye for cinematography is amazing. We’ve got a disturbing amount of links to the blading world, which I don’t think a lot of people would assume about us. I don’t think we seem like that kind of bunch, but it’s wicked.” Esben and the Witch are gearing up to hit the road again this year, starting with a selection of UK dates to introduce native fans to the new material before embarking on a small European tour. This time round they seem much more confident in their abilities and comfortable with their latest selection of eerie indie gems. However, to get the full intended experience of Wash The Sins Not Only The Face, Copeman suggests avoiding the iTunes version of the album. “We really wanted there to be a journey through the album. The idea was to move through the stages from day to night. ‘Yellow Woods’ is supposed to be that dusky time and ‘Smashed To Pieces’ was a consciously written closer. We wanted the last riff fading out to mark the end of the record, but on iTunes there is a bonus track so there is something after it – bloody iTunes!”
A Step in the Right Direction James Iha may never escape the tarnished memories of The Smashing Pumpkins, but his first solo album in over a decade is a good place to start. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Words: Chris Purnell Photo: Aliya Naumoff
Some bands, and some musicians, go further than others can. James Iha grew up in a middle class home in Chicago, Illinois, learning to play guitar and co-founding The Smashing Pumpkins with friend Billy Corgan in 1988 - and they did well. The Pumpkins went on to sell more than 25 million records and gained ten Grammy Award nominations. Along with Nirvana, Metallica and Guns and Roses, their singles ruled the radio airwaves and their videos were played constantly on MTV until the resurgence of bubblegum pop and the formation of The Spice Girls in the late ‘90s. But by then, the Pumpkins were suffering from internal fighting, addiction, and falling record sales. In 2000, the Pumpkins broke up. And while the break-up of bands has ended careers, like Krist Novoselic from Nirvana, it has also launched solo careers, like Dave Grohl from Nirvana; and James Iha from The Smashing Pumpkins.
Iha could never be accused of laziness. Following the Pumpkins’ break up, Iha joined supergroup A Perfect Circle with Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan and is set to go on the road with them after the band’s sixyear-hiatus. “When those guys want to play, I want to play,” says Iha, not drawing any parallels between the reformation of A Perfect Circle and his unwillingness to join the newly reformed Smashing Pumpkins. “That band broke up,” says Iha, sighing, reluctant to speak about the reformation of the alt rock giants. “I’ve moved on, and it is what it is,” he says, audibly tensing up. But when asked flatly if the original members will ever reform he replies in a surprisingly non-committal way. “I don’t know.” If this is a glimmer of hope to Pumpkin fans, or an effort to make the questions stop, it isn’t clear. Iha wants to be very clear about his feelings towards the band, and how those feelings have nothing to do with a possible reformation. “They’re a great band. I had a great time with them and made a lot of good records. We toured the world, and...yeah.” Again, one can read those words as a man caught up in a wistful daydream of the past, or as a man bored by having to constantly clarify himself. “You know, right now,” Iha begins, “I’m just working on my solo records, and I want to play with A Perfect Circle. I’m also producing bands here in New York, and that’s my focus.” While Pumpkins fans may have a long wait before they see Iha and Corgan together again on stage, this is undoubtedly a productive time for Iha as a producer, label and studio owner, band member, and solo artist. Look To The Sky is Iha’s second full-length solo effort and his follow-up to 1998’s Let It Come Down and, in his own strange little way, he has a lot to say about it. “I wanted it to be good, and I wanted it to be different than the first - those are the only two goals I had. I slowly started writing songs, but I felt that they sounded too much like my first record and I wanted it to sound better. I wanted it to be more varied and have different kinds of sounds, like rock stuff, and New Wave elements. I wanted to do things that I didn’t do on the first.” Not difficult, considering Iha’s first record, 1998’s Let it Come Down, was a classic singer-songwriter record. It’s very basic acoustic rock sound fused with country, Beck-esque folk and Iha’s soulful lyrics reminding listeners of the tracks he co-wrote with Corgan, which contrasted his darker, harder tone, and while enjoyable, and a slight novelty for being unlike the barn-burning, anthemic, stadium filling alt-rock the Pumpkins were known for, it was quickly forgotten due to the lack of anything we hadn’t heard before. But Iha had made his first solo move and stepped out from the Pumpkins’ shadow.
“This record is sonically more evolved,” says Iha, pausing to consider - and he is right. Tracks like ‘Gemini’ demonstrate Iha returning to his alt-rock roots with this electric guitar heavy track, reminiscent of the Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie era, and then the synth-pop ‘Summer Days,’ another highlight of the record. But then there are a bevy of acoustic rock love songs, which do sound cleaner than the first record, but could also feature on that record and not stand out as different. “I also think I am more evolved as a singer,” offers Iha. This statement is a matter of taste, but he is demonstrating a greater vocal range on the new record, from the quiet acoustic stuff, similar to the first and his work with the Pumpkins, to a harsh rock and roll sound, but one can’t help but feel that while this is an improvement, it is still not a strong and dynamic instrument. Enjoying the freedom of writing and producing his own work, Iha reflects on the less than a handful of songs he wrote for the Pumpkins. “The songs that ended up on the record are the songs that fit at that time. There probably were one or two songs that I thought should have been on them, but overall, it is what it is.” His general tone of dismissal and seeming unwillingness to discuss anything without some coaxing gives the impression of a shy, introverted artist, uncomfortable speaking about himself or his work, or a stubborn and belligerent artist that is uncomfortable speaking to an interviewer - the impression can go either way. “I had fun making the record,” says Iha describing the recording experience of Look To The Sky, which began back in 2007. Recorded entirely in a studio he co-owns in Manhattan called Stratosphere Sound, Look To The Sky features contributions from rock and roll luminaries like Karen O and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kelly Pratt from Arcade Fire, Nina Persson from The Cardigans and many, many others. “I know a lot of New York based musicians, and over the course of time I’ve called up some friends to contribute to the record and see what they can add. They’re all really nice, really creative people. I was lucky enough to have all these people come in and do stuff for me.” Like a fat kid left alone in Thorntons, Iha speaks with joy and enthusiasm when describing the friends he has on his record. “I like the song ‘Appetite’, where Tom Verlaine of Television plays guitar and Mike Garson, who is a piano player, who played with David Bowie in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, have a kind of duel, seeing that come together was really exciting.” And it must have been to watch, but to listen to, not so much, as it is one of the oddest tracks on the record. But a jam-rock duel between two alt-rockers can be interesting without being enjoyable. Not only has knowing the right people helped make the record what it is, but also working as a producer (producing work with lesser known acts for a label he co-owns, Scratchie Records) since leaving the Pumpkins has clearly stood Iha and this record in good stead. “You definitely learn stuff from anyone and everyone,” says Iha. “When you produce bands you pick up on the good things and bad things that happened.” Unable to point to specifics, he continues: “It’s all a life experience. I’m very lucky to have played in the bands I have been in - The Smashing Pumpkins, A Perfect Circle, Tinted Windows - and all of it has affected me and has affected the music I make.”
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Down 1 Trilingual Dance Sexperience 2 Metal label and former home to Glassjaw 4 Senate’s first ever team video 7 Former Medium pro Neil Semar’s nickname 8 Arlo Eisenberg’s daughter 10 Famous Interpol song featured in Chris Haffey’s 4x4 section 12 The Smashing Pumpkin’s debut album 15 Electronic label founded in Sheffield
Across 3 Deceased Welsh rollerblading legend 5 Infamous Swiss blading competition 6 World record holder for longest rail grind 9 Glasgow based art collective featuring Rustie and Hudson Mohawke 11 The Viking of vert skating 13 Omar Wysong’s new wheel company 14 Josh Petty’s now defunct liner company 16 The name of Louie Zamora’s Senate pro wheel
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