Geoff Rowley – Interview re-up

As the hype and excitement builds for the April 21st global premiere of 'Propeller', the first ever full-length video from Vans, we thought it was about time to re up this.
Originally printed in Sidewalk 184 (Jan 2012) and collected during a low key UK filming trip with Geoff Rowley, Anthony Van Engelen and Greg Hunt - the following interview sees Geoff talking about the Propeller video at a point in time where they'd only just started filming, they didn't even have a title for the video and when Geoff was still recovering from major ankle surgery.
Read on and get excited - Propeller is going to blow the doors off!

So then, you were once famously quoted as saying that trouble in your life (specifically with past relationships) fuelled your willingness to risk your neck on a skateboard so I’ve got to ask really, has becoming a father quenched those flames?

Quite the opposite! I feel renewed, charged and ready to go! Now I actually have something to lose…

So no more impromptu fists of justice getting dispensed to those asking for it then?

Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often, but that beast is always causing me trouble…(laughing).

How are you fitting into your fatherhood role, is it coming naturally or what?

I feel comfortable with the new role; the whole process is totally natural. I like the reality check! All you need is love.

You’ve been plagued with injuries over the last few years so I imagine a gentle stroll down the park with your family is a welcome break from flinging yourself into chasms of doom too, eh?

The chasms of doom still plague my mind but having a family to spend time with is a pleasant break from the monotony of day-to-day life. The drive and passion I have for skating is always bubbling below the surface. I appreciate those grinds a little more though now: know what I mean?

So you were over for the week before Downtown Showdown in London, what was the specific point of that little cross-country jaunt from your perspective?

It was an excuse to see family and friends, (laughs), seriously! I also thought it would be a fun little journey with Ave and Greg, both of whom I have been hanging out and skating with a bunch – Greg kept asking about going to England also so the stars aligned. We’ve got to come back in the summer for another session.


Above – Geoff spreads his wings like a ‘Newbird’ 

You’ve obviously been to all the previous Stateside DTSD events – how do you think the London one went?

I enjoyed it! Vans always does a good job at making people feel welcome, Steve Van Doren knows how to treat people. Judging by the amount of smiles I saw on people’s faces I would guess that everybody else felt the same. Spitalfields market has certainly got a little hipper since I was last there though.

Are you going to approach this Vans project differently from say a Flip video? Or is it business as usual and hope that your body doesn’t revolt against you?

I am going to just focus on the skating, Greg has the rest. So in that respect it is a lot easier than a Flip video for myself.

I’m assuming that as you came over to the UK that you’re keen to have footage from Liverpool etc in this production – where else have you been travelling with Greg etc to film and how does this fit in with your other commitments?

Mostly filming locally in Southern California. I don’t plan on doing too much travel for this video. Most of the stuff I skate is in the Southwest anyhow, (Arizona, New Mexico etc.) I may venture out to Austin, Texas to skate with Luke McKirdy at some point, then probably another trip or two to England, that will probably be it though. I don’t like to skate in exotic locations; I prefer the classic U.S. and U.K. soil.

Skateboarding is such a weird activity in the sense that regardless of how famous or celebrated you are you still go through the same experiences as the little kid who just started – I’m thinking particularly about you, AVE and Greg hopping fences in f*cking Belper to film for one of the most anticipated videos in skateboard history. Does shit like that still trip you out in the same way it obviously did for Darren and Nick who took us there?

Yes! I trip out all the time! I feel so damned blessed to be around such creative people on a daily basis, skateboarding does indeed keep a man nice and humble. I particularly tripped out taking all the Flip guys around Liverpool a few years back, having Lance Mountain skate your school is enough to make a grown man weep. Skateboarding rules! Darren and Nick are rad!

I know you didn’t get to spend too much time skating whilst you were over but how does UK skating look from your outsider/insider perspective these days? We’ve had a skatepark explosion bigger than that of the 70’s and a whole new generation of skaters from the UK have started making waves over the water again – is that gratifying to see?

Absolutely! We are very lucky to get all these skateparks worldwide!  Raemers is doing really well over here: I am stoked for him. Nordberg has been skating really well also on the last few trips Stateside too. I like skating with Ben.

Above – frontside nosebluntslide into the detritus of the Kirkby yoof

What happened to the photo you shot of Raemer’s nosepick in Satan’s Toilet whilst he was dressed as a dog’s lipstick on the Volcom screen-printing tour the summer before last?

I think I saw that in a magazine recently! I cannot remember which one though. I shot that with Floris Gierman’s camera (Volcom employee)
What a gnarly trick huh? Good work Ben!

When can we expect to see this Jimmy Boyes section you’re sitting on?

(Laughing), hopefully soon: It is like fine wine, tastes better with age….

Some things about Britain never change though – tell us about getting chased out of Edge Lane by feral kids – sounded pretty gnarly to me.

Par for the course anytime you go to Edge Lane, some things never change eh! Liverpool still has that rough side. At least we didn’t get glassed or chased with fear of being killed…maybe next time?

Then on the other side of the coin you’ve got things like New Bird, which are just skateboarding in its essence kind of thing huh?

New Bird is f*cking sick as f*ck! I wish that was my in my back yard. I don’t think even that place is immune to the Liverpool Scally though! Those f*ckers just sniff out people and places to f*ck with…

Obviously Vans as a company are big enough to absorb the costs involved with actually creating a physical ‘Vans DVD’ despite the overwhelming prevalence of free internet content these days – where do you stand on the whole ‘skate DVD’s are dead’ issue?

You can hold them in your hand, simple as that. Time will tell how the DVD versus the Internet video pans out. My money is on neither.

Above – the Dock Road Banks welcome Geoff home with open tiles

For every Luan or Corey Kennedy that the internet throws up there are a million other kids putting themselves out there via the web – does ‘internet fame’ really have much meaning in terms of longevity/career options beyond ‘likes on Facebook’ or self-props would you say?

The best guys will still be around after the one-minute of fame hype. The ones that want it will be out there ‘getting some’ regardless.

Does your email get clogged up with ‘sponsor me’ mails still?

Yes. We watch every single one.

Obviously Flip are extremely stringent in terms of who is good enough to get on the team, what do you or Fox or Arto or whoever look for in terms of potential?

We look for talent first and foremost and that can come in many shapes and forms. We are very fortunate to have friends worldwide that keep an eye out for us as well. Thanks for Luan Ben, (laughing)! That was a good drunken find.

Above – GR spots a cheeky NB outlet for his nosewheelie 180

You always used to say in interviews that when you were done physically in skateboarding that you’d just disappear into the hills, is this still an option for you are you likely to stick around in an industry capacity if and when you can’t skate any more (at least at a pro level that satisfies you)?

I stand by that statement. I do however love skateboarding so the hills may have to wait a little while longer. This old carcass still wants some action!

So let’s end it on an obvious one – what’s on your agenda for next year (assuming of course that the Mayans weren’t right and 2012 isn’t the apocalypse)?

Get gnarly. Enjoy every f*cking grind like it was the last. We are in the apocalypse right now aren’t we?

Below – backside nose blunt on hallowed concrete 

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