In depth interview with Manchester ripper Tyrone O'Hanrahan
The following interview was conducted whilst sat at a picnic table outside the City Road Inn on Albion St in Manchester one balmy evening a few months back.
For the sake of context, our location accidentally placed us within spitting distance of two of the most iconic spaces in recent Manchester cultural history, with what used the Hacienda to our left, and the arches, (now bricked up) which used to lead to Manchester’s infamous Gasworks to our right.
What was planned as a 30 minute chat after Ty finished work with Matthew ‘Nev’ Nevitt and Joe Gavin in tow, turned instead in a four hour marathon covering topics as diverse as how hard Lidl is killing it, through to Chris Eubank’s trousers.
Needless to say there was way, way too much contained with the straining confines of my Dictaphone to be published here so the tales of Adam Ahmed regulating security guards on level 7 of the M.E.N multi-storey carpark, Lloyd McLeggon being the ultimate G for skating around Urbis listening to classical music, or how ‘Switch Andy’ could’ve been Manchester’s answer to Shane O’Neill had he not fallen into the fingering vortex in Satan’s Hollow will have to wait for another time.
So Ty, for a while nobody outside of Manchester really saw much of you: you’d pop up on Joe’s vids or whatever but if people didn’t come through here it was like you weren’t about. This is when you were working in bars in the Northern Quarter doing crazy vampire hours, right?
Yeah, this was a few years back – that stopped for me when the new Note opened: you’re right though; I was living full vampire-style, nocturnal as fuck.
I started off in ‘Trough’ – that was my first cocktail bar job. I was pretty stoked on getting a job there at the time, as I was 18/19 and working in the Northern Quarter. I’d been working in a pub called the ‘Horse & Jockey’ in Chorlton before, which was a pretty swanky place, so I was pretty hyped that I managed to get work at Trough despite not having any experience with making cocktails.
So that’s why nobody really saw you skating outside of dudes in Manchester?
Yeah, I just didn’t have time to do it. I mean I was skating, but I was working full time, trying to pay bills…I didn’t have a choice. That’s why I tried to go in on that Nike tour that you lot basically kidnapped me onto, because I knew Colin (Kennedy) and that weren’t seeing me out there doing it. When that En Route thing happened I was finally between vampire life and working in Note so it was my first opportunity in ages to try and get on it. Before that I was finishing work when everyone else was getting out of bed, and when I’d have a day off to skate there was no one around because they were at work. I was just so out of synch with everyone. It got harder and harder to go out and skate because I needed the money for rent and shit: I didn’t want that life necessarily but it was either that or being poor…
So you were just making crazy cocktails then?
Yeah kinda, being a mixologist if you want to put a name on it. I had a few specialities. I can make a banging Tiki cocktail, the pengest blend of flavours to make the most delicious Espresso Martini. I invented a drink too, called ‘Bitches and Rose’ – that had Hendrick’s gin, cucumber syrup, rose syrups, bit of this bit of that – I’m not going to divulge the details here, (laughs)…
You must have a few good anecdotes from that time: celebrities on a crend maybe?
Yeah, Chris Eubank – he was always about – he knows a bunch of people in the Northern Quarter. He’s a mad guy, wears the maddest outfits – like has the biggest meat head you’ve ever seen, rocking maroon blazers, cravats, and the illest pants that he gets tailored which he then stuffs into his socks and wears with super shiny loafers, (laughs). He doesn’t know where he’s at man. One of my mates was working one night and he was in there, just gurning his face off, having it. Eubank on a fucking U-bend basically, (laughing).
Joe: I think you working in the bars first gave you a head start when you started in Note though Ty, you’ve got the bants down, you know everyone…
I guess: it’s something you learn how to do working in a bar because it’s the way that you earn tips – call it customer service, call it bants, call it whatever you like. In some bars tips get shared between everyone but when you work somewhere and you get your own individual tips it’s easy to work out real quick what does, and what doesn’t, work in terms of how you deal with people. You know like, “I’ve got 75 buff in tips tonight and you’ve got a quid…what the fuck are you doing?” (Laughing). When I heard that the new Note shop was coming around that was my incentive to try get myself out of that bar lifestyle so I could skate more. I remember saying to Splodge at the time that he was going to be the only boss that I’d ever have who would understand what I’d need in terms of days off, in terms of needing to go skate and that I really needed a chance to prove that I was serious about it. And you know what? Dude turned around and hooked me up. Most upmost respect to Splodge for that, always…
You still managed to film with him though, (points at Joe), even during that time…
Yeah because Gavin has had my back since day: it’s something special man…
Look, Joe’s embarrassed now but I mean it and it needs saying. During the bar period it felt as though I was being torn away from what I was. Skateboarding is my identity and if I wasn’t skating then I wasn’t me; it felt like I was just becoming this next guy. It was fun but you can’t do that shit forever. I didn’t want to either – I didn’t want my fulfilment to only come from getting boozy.
Okay moving on, give us a bit of background on yourself Ty – where are you from originally?
I grew up between Longsight and Victoria Park.
What was that like?
Honestly? Pretty ghetto. When I was a kid I couldn’t go to Hulme or Whalley Range, the areas that I live in now, for the pure reason of like postcode beef. You’d go into a new area from where I grew up and you’d get the three questions: “Who are you? Where are you from? Who do you know?”
If none of the answers you gave were relevant to what they wanted to hear then you’d get beaten up pretty much. It was all about crews: gangs really. Back then there were so many different gangs, just gnarly crews of drug dealers and gang-bangers attached to each particular area. It might sound like an exaggeration to people who didn’t grow up around that world but it was a daily thing. Big groups of guys hanging around on street corners doing fuck knows what every single day.
Is that where you got introduced to skating?
Yeah in this little carpark around the corner from where I lived. The thing that actually attracted me to there was that there was a wall at the side of it and I always used to be like, “one day I’ll jump that wall”, (laughs). There was me and this guy Jack who’d wax the kerbs up and do what everyone does. I’d go play football with all my mates from the estate and I remember turning up at Birchfield Park all rigged up in my footy shit and seeing that they’d built some ramps. That was it. My mind was set on those ramps. Went home, took my footy kit off, stuck the massive grungy baggy kit on, got the Hudson deck from JJB and just went to try and learn how to skate. I was on it, (laughing)…
How long was it before you were introduced to the skate scene in a wider sense?
For a long time I had no idea about any of it, didn’t know the Gasworks existed, didn’t know anyone who skated except for the guys on my street. Eventually I met some guys at Birchfields, a guy called Chris who we called ‘George’ for some reason and a guy called Ryan who was a bit of a mosher – but they were both super safe. They introduced us to skating in Manchester.
They took us to the G (Gasworks) one day and showed us what was up.
I remember saying something like, “You can skate in town? I thought the park was it!” (Laughing), got off the bus like ‘whoa, I’m in town! No parents, shit this is sick!’
Next minute we got to these arches over here (points to where the Gasworks used to be) and boom – there’s skaters everywhere, propping up slabs as kickers, jumping down stairs – that was pretty insane to me at the time. How I see it now, all the guys who I chill with these days were most probably there that day and I was just this little kid getting his mind blown by seeing it. It was something else – all of a sudden I’m seeing ‘skateboarding’…
So coming from where you do, do you ever think about what you might be doing now if you hadn’t found that car park down the end of your street?
Who knows? When I was in high school I was a bit of a ‘character’ shall we say, a bit of a little shit really, and I got kicked out of school. I had a bad reputation because the teachers didn’t like my older brother and I suppose I sort of played up to that a bit which, looking back on it wasn’t really that good of a thing to do, so I got booted out. It turned out a few years later that I’d been deleted from my school’s database, like there was no record of me even having gone there which in a weird way sort of helped me out in terms of skating because I was just out, knocking on Joe’s door to go skating when I ought to have been in school.
Thanks to my big brother who actually got me my first skateboard and planted the seed I turned out okay. If I hadn’t had that to focus on then I’d have probably never got to where I am now and I would’ve probably got trapped in that hood environment. I’m lucky to even see most of the guys that I went to school with: a lot of them are in prison and the dudes that are out are mainly wack guys – just gym heads that wanna sell you a bud, or find out where you live and rob all your shit.
So yeah, to answer the question, if I hadn’t found skating I’d probably just be some little fuckwit…well, I still am kinda, (laughing). No bullshit though, for me, skateboarding is a genuinely positive thing, which is why I’ll never let it go.
It’s who I am: I am a skateboarder. Manchester is an easy place to fuck your life up if you’re not careful.
What happened to the ‘fro Ty? Is it on creative hiatus, or is it gone for good?
I’m going to be honest, the ‘fro was only ever there because I was too broke to get a haircut and I just kinda rolled with it after a bit. It was massive though…
Nev: I remember back in the day when you used to wear those big chunky éS shoes and had the ‘fro – you looked just like Rodrigo TX…
You know what Nev? I probably didn’t even know who Rodrigo TX was at the time. I was well innocent to skating for a long time…
What were the first videos you saw then?
You (points at Joe) letting me borrow the ‘ghetto box set’ with Trilogy, Mouse, and a bunch of other 90’s videos on it; that definitely influenced the way I ended up skating. Actually, thinking about it, there was this guy Davey Brown, (big up to him) and he hung out with these two punk chicks Rana and Zara who used to smash it, skating pools and shit, busting out mad front smiths on big fucking ramps back then: I remember watching them as a kid like, “Whoa! Check out these two honeys killing it!” (Laughing), anyway, one night I’d got locked out of my house and ended up around his house with that crew and borrowed that first Heroin video ‘Good Shit’, Yeah Right and Sidewalk ‘In Motion’ on VHS. Those were the first three skate videos I ever saw as a kid. At the time I was mad young and I knew Joe already, but I was still kind of in awe of Grove, he was this uber-legend back then because of all the shit in that Sidewalk part: I couldn’t believe that I rode for the same shop as “Grove the legend”, (laughing). I was stoked on Yeah Right too obviously, Biebs and all that but as much as I was into the G shit, I was just as down for the most local shit too because to me, that was the most G thing you could do; like holding it down for your local turf.
What was up with that modelling gig you did for Dickies?
Oh here we go…blue steel.
You were on massive posters around town and bus stops and stuff though weren’t you?
Yeah, that came about through Woody who works for Carl’s Spiv Agency who does PR for Dickies. They hooked me up on Dickies at first and then one day Carl goes, “Do you wanna do some modelling?” Obviously I was keen, money for standing about? So I did a few look-books with Percy thinking nothing of it and then boom, there’s my picture in all these Dickies stores around the country, (laughing). Just me in black and white, all curly-Shirley like, (laughs). There’s one in Note actually, Denz (Dom Henry) used to put it behind me when I was serving to try and freak me out, (laughs). Just stood in the shop with a cardboard cut out of myself right behind me, looking like a dick. There’s still one in Salford Quays actually, the glass security doors to this one building are still covered up with life-size cut outs of Tyreman and me.
So aside from the side career modelling, are you chasing after the skate thing more actively these days, now that you’ve got free time to actually skate?
Well the way things work these days – sponsors want you to be productive so you need to be flexible enough in your life to jump on it when these opportunities arise. If you’re stuck doing a regular 9 – 5 job you’re not in the best situation. Especially not where the onus is on you to prove that you’re keen and that you’re out there doing stuff for the people who support you. I’m sure every skater out there would love to get by in life just from skating – I’m realistic, I’m not going to get rich, I don’t aspire to be P Rod, but just making enough out of skating to be able to live comfortably; that’s what everyone wants, surely? It’s what makes me happy, so I just want to be able to skate as much as possible without getting dragged back into that life I was stuck in before working at Note.
So when did you start thinking like that? Was it after you got kidnapped onto that Nike En Route tour?
Yeah, sort of: Splodge man, big him up again as he gave me holiday pay so I could afford to go on that trip even though I’d only been working in the shop for a little while. Another prime example of why he is the best dude…he’s put so much effort into all of us, I can’t even begin to thank him really.
Was that your first tour?
Yeah it was. I’d been on a couple of trips before that, but that was the first ‘tour’ as such. I loved it man, the mission – drive from one place to another in a van, hop out, do your shit, then hop back in. It was bad man; I loved every minute of it. You’re in a position to constantly go skate; you’re only going to be in that place for like one session so it makes you go in. I mean, look at Ky, he smashed the shit out of every spot we went to on that Nike tour, then went straight onto a Cliché tour the day the En Route one ended and just carried on. That’s what ‘being sponsored’ is these days. Respect to Kyron – my man holds it down. Watching him made me realise how focused and determined you need to be. If you want those opportunities then you can’t fuck about and take it for granted. He prevailed at Little Lloyds with that noseblunt transfer man, for like 5 hours – never shouted, never threw his board, never acted like a dick – he just stayed locked into it and calm until he prevailed. Incredible. Experiencing that was definitely inspirational…
Can you explain what the Manchester skate scene is like from the perspective of someone who grew up here?
There’s so much I could say here to be honest but I think there’s one thing that probably sums up the scene here best. If you do your homework and you pay attention to all the videos that Mr. Gavin has put out over the years there’s one thing that I can point out about the Manchester scene and how welcoming it is that I’ve never really noticed anywhere else until recently and that’s how we’ve always had someone from another country, a foreigner if you like, and they’ve always loved it here, been loved by everybody here and it’s been nothing but respect and good times. Some of those people come back here many times; some of them move to Manchester, some of them are now actual Mancs.
I don’t see that in any other skate scenes, except for maybe in London with someone like Domas, but we have had many people like Domas in Manchester over the years. Nihal, Gavso, Naffy the Malaysian guy, Clement from France, Pablo from Spain, he’s a Manc now, just so many people. That’s a powerful aspect of the scene here that might pass people by, but if they do some homework and pay attention to the vids then you’ll see what I’m talking about. Watch my man’s shit (points at Joe), because he’s captured it all. People outside of Manchester, people all over the world – they know what’s going on in this place. That’s how our scene is.
Joe: How do you see it developing in the future?
Well I think the mutual respect between all the different generations and crews has always been there but I feel like the next Manc generation that are coming up now are so much more aware of the effects that the way they act have on those around them, and how the way that they look at skating is going to influence the younger crews. Not on some arrogant shit where it’s like, “I wanna be cool and trendy and wear this or that” though because that’s not how people get down here. They’re on their own shit, they all skate together but they don’t skate the same way, or skate the same spots. The next generation are going to blow the lid off everything. I’m excited for the future here in Manchester. Sometimes people will see the younger generation out and about and just imagine that they’ve appeared overnight but they’ve all been going in for years. Proper skate rats all of them, out ripping the streets since they were 8 or 9 years old on the DL then just turn up in the city and kill it. It’s amazing man…
Is there anything else that you’d like to add Ty?
Thanks to: Splodge, Joe Gavin, Toni Da Silva, Ben Grove and the rest of the Note Fam – you know who you are!
Thanks to my mum for being a super strong lady, and for raising my brother, my sister and I. Much respect to my big bro – this never would have happened if it wasn’t for you G, so massive love for that bro, hope you’re proud.
Nuff love to all the Castle crew for putting man up a few times last year – Morph, Buddle, Karim, Brooks, Harry Lintell and all the rest of you guys.
Big thanks to all the Tw crew for holding me down over the years. Can’t replace you guys and wouldn’t for anything. Thanks to Landscape for sorting me out for some time, thanks to Snowy. Also a super thanks to Nike SB for hooking me up with boots for so long – cheers Colin Kennedy and Vaughan Baker.
Another big thanks to Carl and Woody for giving me Dickies over the years and to Keanu my house mate for dealing with me this past year. Best guy to live with, wouldn’t ask for any other housemate. Keep your eyes and ears out for him.
A massive thanks to anyone I’ve forgotten. Big ups to Sidewalk for doing this with me as well, Ben Powell is a one in a million, thanks for what you do for skating G!! And a final thanks to skateboarding and to anyone reading this.
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