Snaddon’s been lurking in the city of Bristol for some years now. Being a migrant from Exeter he’s been patiently waiting for his travel visa to arrive permitting him daily travel from Bedminster, a suburb lying south of the river into northern Bristol.
I heard the name for a long time but have only known the person a short time. I have only recently become friends with him and started chilling and skating with Dave on the regular since he left his training ground the skate park ‘Dean Lane’. Dave is a friendly, polite person who is very spicy on his steeze. He has been spotted trying to rub marks off his fresh white t-shirts that don’t even exist, image conscious possibly, street skater definitely with serious POP to add to his love of curries.
Safe, Drum + Bass, Kebab, Flick, Bolts, Maaaaaate, Clean, Wobble Jaw, Style, Half Cab, Power are just some key words that spring to mind when thinking about Dave.
Please sit back relax enjoy the interview peace out init my lovers…… Flynn Trotman
Dave Sneddon came to the nation’s living rooms in 2002 when he won Fame Academy, then going on to have a number 1 single and a top-selling album, but has been qui…. Ooops, wrong guy.
This is Dave Snaddon. One of those skaters who’s ridiculously good and whose name is probably familiar to you but the chances are that you haven’t seen that much of him recently. Since moving to Bristol two years ago – a city already heaving with talent – word was quick to spread about his skills, notably that infamous pop and the mean kickflick of his.
In getting this interview together, it’s been an up and down period for him, from switching board, shoe and clothing sponsors to a debilitating ankle injury from a flatground trick which kept him off the board for the entire autumn and winter. Doesn’t seem to have stopped him though and off the back of that injury he’s put down some more bangers for this interview. It’s taken a bit of a stretch to come together, but as they say, something worthwhile always takes it time.
Is it really your birthday today?
Yep. I’m officially 22 years old as of today…
And how’s that feel?
I dunno, these things come around pretty quick don’t they? (Laughing). 21 was all good but I’m not sure about 22; you tell me, is it all downhill from here?
Pretty much. You don’t seem to live the average 22 year-old life though; I mean, you’re always in, regardless of what time of day I call. Don’t you have a job?
Nah, I’m not working at the moment because I get a bit of money from DC and Oakley, that way I get to skate more…
We were going to do this interview last night but you were off out for a few birthday drinks; am I torturing you here?
(Laughs), I’m a bit out of it to be honest but it’s all-good. Just don’t expect me to be too sharp.
Did Leo ever tell you that the headmistress from the school that you had that switch heel sequence at phoned me and went crazy about us publishing a photo of her school in the magazine?
Yeah he did actually, that’s crazy. Quite a random phone call for you to receive, especially considering the fact that you weren’t even there: did she really lose it with you?
Yep, she wasn’t happy: “And why exactly do you think there are 8 foot high razor-wire fences around the school?” Etc. Fair enough really I suppose, I think I ended up saying that you were both foreign or something to get out of it…
(Laughs), it’s a shame because that’s a really good spot, and that was the first time I’d ever been there. I doubt I’ll be going back though. I can do without get arrested.
That’s pretty unusual for Bristol isn’t it? It’s not a place where you generally get kicked out that often is it?
Mmm, that depends on where you’re talking about really. The University is a straight bust, a total waste of time but most of the schoolyards that get skated are pretty mellow about people being there, as long as you don’t leave a mess. Your obvious city centre spots, Lloyds, College Green etc, they’re fine to skate whenever…
I thought the council had tried to stop people skating the Green…
Well they tried, but not that hard. Every now and again you’ll get told not to skate it for a day or something but everyone will be back the next day. The flat’s too good there; there’ll always be people skating there…
I can’t think why they’d care about people skating anyway, considering all the wastoids that hang out there; it’s like ‘Swampy Corner’ on a sunny day…
(Laughing) totally, in the summer all the weirdos gravitate there. Thing is, it’s not even that good of a spot, it’s literally just smooth flat to train your stuff up on. Sometimes we’ll have a flatbar or something but mainly just flat….
Well it’s definitely better than the surface at Lloyds.
Yeah, to be honest I’m not too into Lloyds really. I know that’s probably a bit controversial, (laughs) but I don’t really ever go there. I can’t skate the blocks anyway because they’re so rounded off these days. I’ll go down there to meet people but I try not to get stuck there. I’m more into going off on little missions, into Clifton or wherever…
Have you got your own little crew then?
Kind of, I normally go out skating with my housemate Bonus, who I’ve skated with for years. Him and me go out a lot when he’s not working, and I go out skating/filming with Ciaran as often as possible. I’ve been filming with Ciaran for a while now; some stuff for a video that Kev Parrott’s doing, and I try to be pro-active with my sponsors – you know send them a few clips every few weeks, just to let ‘em know what I’ve been up to.
What’s with the street hoodlum/sweat pants look: are you a wigga?
(Laughing), nah, I just like skating in trackies man, nothing more than that.
It’s the pikey in you then?
Nah, I just can’t handle getting all sweaty and that when I’m skating, I’d rather rock some loose shit. You can’t be ashamed of the trackie bottoms man…
So you live with your mate who’s a skater then?
Yeah, I’ve known Bonus for years, he’s from Exmouth and we moved up to Bristol together. It’s kind of a skate house, there’s another friend of ours who lives there too. He doesn’t skate but he’s into making music so we’ve got a shared interest too.
You’ve been around for a good few years now Snaddon, had a fair bit of coverage and yet you’re almost invisible. What’s up with that?
Well to be honest, I’ve had bits of coverage over that time but whilst I was living back in Exeter it was pretty hard to get anything done coverage-wise because there’s not much going on down there. Since I’ve moved back to Bristol everything’s kicked off again, it’s so much easier to get things done here.
What was it like growing up skating in Exeter as a skateboarder? It’s hardly New York is it?
Not exactly, no - I actually grew up in Lyme Regis in Dorset, which is even quieter than Exeter where I ended up a few years later. I started skating in Lyme, which is just your classic tiny seaside town in Dorset…
So how did skateboarding come to be a part of your life living there?
My brother skated way before me, so it was through him really. I used to borrow his board to start off with and go out on my own then all my mates at school started up too. There were a fair few of us at one point, but it wasn’t really a ‘scene’ as such…more just a chilled place to learn to skate with a few skateparks dotted about in the surrounding areas – Sidmouth, Seaton, etc. Nothing amazing really, but enough to learn on. It wasn’t until I moved to Exeter that I really became a member of a scene if you like, even then it wasn’t a scene in the way that Bristol is because there aren’t really any good street spots in Exeter, the scene is focused on the skateparks again, on ‘Flowerpots’ in particular, which is amazing. That was the main spot in Exeter when I was living there. Tim from The Boarding House designed it so it’s sick, rather than being some crappy council effort.
So what was skating like when you were getting into it? Shellies and noseslide nollie heelflips?
(Laughs), no, it was before that. Probably the Birdhouse ‘The End’ video, that was one of the first ones I saw. So I guess the whole Reynolds, Warner Ave sort of time, before the whole PissDrunx thing started…
You weren’t a Smolick victim then?
Not really, but I was definitely into him, he’s a sick skater for sure but I never cloned him…
Who did you clone? Come on, everyone did it when they were young. I know I did.
Probably Reynolds if I’m honest. I definitely used to spend days on end frontside flipping everything because of him but I never really dressed up or anything.
A lot of older skaters these days whinge about how mainstream and commercialized skating has become, and how gay it is compared to BITD. Did skating seem less gay back when you were first in it?
Maybe, but I don’t really see the mainstream exposure and commercialization as a negative thing. You know, maybe you have to get out there and do a bit of gay shit for the TV or whatever but if that means you can make a bit of money and live from skating, then I don’t see that as being bad really…
Your generation is the one benefiting from that as well, 5 or 10 years ago shoe sponsors and companies like Oakley definitely weren’t paying British street skaters.
Exactly, that’s what I mean. Obviously skating was much less commercialized even back when I first started which isn’t that long ago but really, who cares? That’s just how skateboarding has moved on.
You mentioned in your Haunts, many moons ago, that you were plucked from obscurity due to a random meeting with Mat Law during one of the OG Osiris tours, is that actually true? What happened?
Yeah it’s basically true. There was this Osiris demo at Mount Hawke, a long, long time ago and I was basically just a little nipper. I had braces, long hair, obviously well keen like all nippers are. I went down there, got in amongst it with all the riders and skated. Mat pulled me to one side and just said that he wanted to hook me up with Osiris. I didn’t really know what he meant at the time; I was only 15, I didn’t know shit about sponsorship or anything…
Did you eyeball him whilst pulling off your very best crowd pleasers until he noticed or was it all more innocent than that?
(Laughing), oh you knobhead, (laughs again). I knew you’d ask me that. Well, what can I say? It’s all part of being a little kid isn’t it? You know how it goes, you land your trick then you do the ‘look back’ to see if anyone saw you. There was definitely a bit of that involved but you know, it worked so who am I to complain?
So you went from being a totally unknown kid from Dorset to being on an Osiris mega-tour almost overnight. How was that?
A bit weird - to put it mildly: I was painfully shy at that point too, which just made it even weirder. I was going to school and then going on a tour around the country with loads of famous people, (laughing). For a kid living in Lyme Regis that definitely wasn’t normal…
I bet you dined out on that for ages at school, didn’t you?
I did, yeah, ridiculously, (laughs). People were pretty hyped on me at school for a while.
Was that your first introduction to skating in the wider scene outside of your hometown?
Yeah, I’d hardly traveled anywhere at that point and then the next minute I was skating all these places that I’d seen in mags and whatnot.
Is this the reason why you continued to push it and progress instead of doing the whole, “oh I’m sponsored now, I don’t have do anything” routine?
Totally, I’ve always been like that, wanting to push myself and progress and that probably is tied into getting sponsored so early on. I’m going through a good patch at the moment actually; I’m learning new stuff all the time. There’s actually this new little park down the road with a bunch of Parallel style ledges and manny pads. It’s supposed to be an exact replica of Parallel but they f**cked it up a bit. One of the blocks is perfect but the other ones are too close so it’s hard to skate them. Still, it’s a perfect place to learn stuff, especially manual tricks, which I’ve never really been that good at.
Some time after that initial plunge into the world of the skateboard media, you went on another Osiris trip to the then unknown soon-to-be skate mecca of Mallorca. If I’m right this article was the first time that any of the now famous Palma etc spots had ever been in a skate mag. How was it to be there discovering that?
Pretty crazy because we went there with virtually no expectations of what we’d find and then we rocked up and realized that it was basically mini Barcelona. I was still really young at that point so it just blew me away. I couldn’t believe how good the spots were; I’d love to go back there again.
From what I remember from the article it sounded as if there was a fair bit of carnage involved, most of it involving Stew Graham. What do you remember from that trip?
(Laughing), there was definitely a lot of carnage and most it did involve Stew. BB Guns, elbow-dropping cars, all of it: Stew was fully on one on that trip. I was young back then, I had no idea of what kind of a maniac Stew was. Thinking back on it, the whole thing was ridiculous…
Wasn’t it one of your earliest pissed-up experiences too?
Yep, I was 16 and I looked really, really young and I was going out drinking with some severe animals man. It was so funny…
Stew did that crazy gap to 5050 line at Palma Square too didn’t he?
Yeah, I think Horsley f**cked the sequence up so it never ended up in the article but that’s seriously probably the best thing to this day that anyone has done in Mallorca. He basically ollied down the stairs that everyone skates, out past the down bit of the hubba and ground the flat ledge at the bottom. It’s hard to explain if you’ve not been to Palma Square but seriously, it was mental. He was going so fast at it, on this skinny 7” board and just slamming so hard. He approached it like it was a line at Livi or something, (laughs). I doubt there are many other people who’d even see that line, never mind actually do it. The gnarliest slams with no top on man, just grinding his chest across the floor…insane.
There’s a very suspect switch frontsideflip sequence of you in amongst that article (issue61 Oct 2001) – literally, no flip whatsoever. Are you still guilty of that?
Oh God, tell me about it. I’m definitely not guilty of the illusion flips any more, that shit just doesn’t run these days. In my defense though, I wasn’t the only person doing ‘em back then, they were pretty hot for a year or so weren’t they? Everything’s got to be proper nowadays, flip tricks actually need to involve pop and a proper flick or it’s illegal.
Right, moving on, after the whole Osiris thing you ended up now defunct UK skate co Minute, what memories do you have from that era?
That whole Minute thing was good. It was going really well for a while, a good team, good product, sick graphics…I don’t really know what went wrong to be honest but I definitely have good memories of that time.
Didn’t you move to Nottingham for a while before Bristol? Nottingham must’ve been a disappointment for you, for a town with such an amazing skate history it hasn’t got much of a scene these days…
I wasn’t too sure of what to expect of Nottingham really because I didn’t really know anything about it. The time when the scene there was huge, back in the early Unabomber days was way before I knew much about what was going on in the British skate scene. Plus, I was living out in the sticks, on the way out to Mansfield so the only time I’d actually go out skating in Notts was with Horse and Gaz when we were out shooting photos or whatever, so I never really got to meet any of the locals. Plus I was only there for 6 months or so, but still, it didn’t seem like there was that much going on for such a big city. They need a plaza or something there, especially since the new Market Square is totally off-limits.
And then Bristol was after that?
Well, I moved back to Exeter for a bit first, lived there from 17 till about 20, then moved to Bristol after that.
What was the reason for picking Bristol? Was it just down to skating or what?
My ex-girlfriend from Exeter came up here to go to Uni so that was the original impetus and then obviously it was good for skating too, because the scene is so good and because Projects and whatnot were all based here too.
It seems to have worked out okay for you. Bristol is definitely a hotspot in terms of skateboarding in the UK, but I know from personal experience that it’s also pretty easy to fall down the trap door of weed apathy there if you’re not careful.
Yeah, that’s true, if you let it happen you can end up in a haze here but I gave up smoking weed years ago so it was of no interest to me any more. I’d rather go out and be outside than get baked the whole time.
I see that you’ve got some photos from the Deaner, have you got secret DLH status?
(Laughs), I dunno, you can’t really claim DLH can you? I couldn’t handle that place when I first moved to Bristol but we’ve just localized it for ages and I really like it now. Thing is, you have to get used to skating really fast there because the whole park’s on a downhill so it’s weird to get used to not pushing. I’m there all the time now though, you can just roll down the hill hitting stuff up without having to put your foot down.
I’ve heard from reliable sources that you have an alternative life as a dance music nutter. Are you still a regular clubber?
Nah, I wouldn’t go that far; I do go out to the odd house night but I’m not a dance music nutter, (laughs). I’m more into drum and bass and hip hop clubs…
You DJ too, right?
Yeah, I play out in Bristol sometimes. Clubs, parties, the whole thing. My housemates and me have put a few nights on ourselves with proper headliners and then we’ll play before them. We used to play nights in Exeter too when we lived there. It’s cool, you get to pick the music and you get a bit of cash for doing it sometimes as well. It’s all a bit hit and miss really, nothing serious.
But you have all your own gear?
Yeah, turntables, loads of records, all that business….
What’s the classic Snaddon track then?
Mmm, probably ‘Bacteria’ the Pendulum remix. I’m not too into Pendulum as a whole as they’re a bit cheesy but the Bacteria remix always goes down well.
You’ve been filming with Ciaran (O’Connor, forum head, filmer and Bristol immigrant) for a while, haven’t you? For what?
Well I’m not entirely too sure as to what stuff’s going where but I’m definitely doing something for Kev Parrott’s thing but I’m not worrying about that at the moment, I’m just trying to film as much as I can. It’s good though because I’m sitting on loads of stuff right now that’s there for when I need it. How do you feel about filming? Do you enjoy it or does it make you feel like a soulless trick robot? - (Laughs), nah, I like it man. I genuinely enjoy filming, it’s satisfying when you get something on film and it does definitely help you progress. Don’t get me wrong, it is torture sometimes, when it turns into a bail gun session, but you know, that’s all part of it isn’t it?
You recently split with long-time sponsor Osiris to join the UK DC team; you’ve been on Osiris since day one so what happened?
Well like you say, Osiris, and Mat Law in particular have hooked me up and looked after me for so long, and I’m really grateful for all they’ve done for me. Everything was great but then something went on behind the scenes and things went quiet for a while and I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Around the same time Selley got in touch because he’d just got the UK DC TM job and offered me a place on their team. He explained the deal to me and explained how it was a pretty serious opportunity if I was into it, and that I’d get paid too. Obviously I went to speak to Mat (Law) about it and it just seemed like I ought to take the opportunity whilst it was being offered you know…
Is there beef between you and Mat Law over it or not?
No, not at all hopefully because I went about it the right way. It was a really hard decision to make because I’ve got a lot of respect for Mat, and for everything he’s done for me over the years. But I made sure that I talked to him about it, and asked his advice, rather than just bailing on him. Cheers for everything Mat! The DC team is working out good though. Selley’s got a rad team together and has lots of ideas and plans for the future so I’m stoked to be a part of it.
Tell us something that we’d never suspect about Dave Snaddon.
This is a hard one….I don’t really have many skeletons in the closet. What you see is what you get with me really. I do make music with my house mate Jordan, we’ve been producing beats and whatnot for a few years. Hip hop beats, instrumentals, drum and bass – we’re working towards doing something with that in the future. Actually maybe that’s the answer to the question.
How come I never see you at skate events or comps? Are you going to sort it out or do you have social anxiety disorder or something?
Nah, I do get to stuff, I do get about a bit these days. Especially since I moved to Bristol, I went to the Boardmasters, Urban Games….
Don’t give me excuses Snaddon.
(Laughing), no you’re right, now that my ankle’s good again I’ll try to get to more events this summer. I actually quite like comps and demos, it is weird skating in front of people but it’s a different experience I suppose. I did a few demos when I was riding for Karma, which Pete (King) sorted out and I even got paid a bit of money for doing it. Actually, I’ve got to say thanks to Jane, Adam, Pete and everyone else at Karma for that. After I moved to Bristol Shiner offered me a chance to ride for Zoo York, which is a company I’ve always been into and it made sense because Shiner was in Bristol too. Everything’s working out at the moment.
You take the whole, ‘stickers on your board’, repping the logos in photos, being sponsored thing pretty seriously, that’s probably helped.
Well, I don’t get why people don’t do that…you know, being too cool to rep the people who help you out or whatever. If you’re going to get a photo it’s not that much of a hassle to wear your sponsor’s t-shirt is it? Why are people going to help me out if I don’t do the same thing in return? It’s in everyone’s interest really, take it a bit more seriously, keep in touch with your sponsors, letting ‘em know what you’ve been up to. Obvious really…
What have you got to say to any younger skaters out there who want to come up in skating in the UK: What should they know?
Just the really clichéd stuff I guess. They’re clichés because they’re true though. If you just keep at it long enough then things have a tendency to work out. Don’t be one of those people who just fade out for no good reason. If you stick at it and you travel and you’re not a dick then it’ll come to you. Simple really…
I would like to thank the following people: - Mum and Dad, my brothers Joni and Mike for all their support. Mat Law, Habgood, Aiden at Projects for all their support over the years. All the Osiris team, your help was much appreciated. Leo and everyone at Sidewalk, Ciaran, my ex girlfreind Alice for supporting me and putting up with me skating all the time. Rob Selley and everyone at DCshoes, the DC team. Everyone at Shiner for hooking me up, their help has really kicked things off for me, everyone at Zoo York. Pete King, Adam and Jane at I-five fo their support. Dave Allen and everyone at Oakley, Shout outs to: everyone I grew up skating with, all the Lyme Regis crew, all the Exeter massive. Bristol crew Bonus, Jordan, Johnston, Phil, Brian, Dom, Bodely, Ollie, Martin, Mc, lmar, Alban, Matty, Simpson for helping me with boards when I was stuck, everyone down at the Deaner, all the college green crew, 50-50 massive, everyone who came out for my birthday and anyone I forgot.