Hi Josh, we’re here in the West Country following on from Vert Attack X over the weekend, which looked mental judging from the Instagram footage going up – what were some of the event’s highlights?
Some of the highlights from Vert Attack? Probably seeing dudes like Mike Frazier, Matt Dove, Darren Navarette and Andy Scott, all those dudes ripping; the Masters was super, super fun and entertaining to watch, especially when the jams happened. They were definitely getting some, even J-Mag – it was awesome to see him get in there and rip it up with everyone, then casually go right back to running the event. Yeah Vert Attack was just awesome! Even the little kids too, everyone – it’s rad to see, because when I was growing up things were going through a weird stage where there were only a few kids that skated vert and you knew all of them. Nowadays there are so many little kids, even people in general, skating vert just for the love of it and it’s cool to see that group of skaters come together from all over the world at Vert Attack. The girls too – Lizzie, Allysha, Poppy – they were all ripping, which was really cool to see. Just the whole vert scene seems like it’s really coming back, and Vert Attack is a really great event. You get to see the up and comers and the legends, all skating and ripping and having a good time together.
Josh finds the line and lays back (smith)
Definitely! Looking at your Instagram output, you’re quite a skate history aficionado right?
Yeah definitely, I’ve always looked up to people and been interested in hearing stories from them and learning about how it was back in the day. It’s super interesting and rad, especially when you get the opportunity to hang out with some of the legends of skateboarding. It’s always a blessing to hear some of those stories…
Who were some of your biggest influences growing up?
Probably Lance Mountain, Jeff Grosso, whoever I was skating with at the time. I grew up at the Vans Skatepark with the Combi Bowl so it was pretty much whoever came into there…Duane Peters. I grew up there in the middle of a pretty heavy vert scene.
Yeah, I guess you must have seen some pretty heavy shit go down in the Combi over the years?
Oh yeah for sure! Probably almost everything…I spent a lot of time in that place and it’s super rad to see the changes the park has made throughout the years. They always change it up and add something new for the kids, but the Combi has always remained there and that’s been one of those pools that brings everyone in to check out the park. It’s crazy that it’s been going on for ten plus years now – the contest that is – and new things are still being done, like Pedro’s transfer. I saw that and it was insane, like mind blown. Then Matt Boyster did it right afterwards, which was frontside, kind of and was insane too…but just the way Pedro blasted over that thing was insane. Then you got CJ kickflipping into it every time too, which is rad!
You’ve got your own vert ramp too, right? That’s unusual, even in Cali…how did that come about?
Yeah I’ve got a vert ramp in my parent’s backyard. We ended up taking down a ramp that my friend had in Tustin, the city over, and started at my house with all the wood thinking about what we could do. I wanted to get a vert ramp so Vans and a couple other sponsors helped out with some money and donations, we got that going and ten days later my friend and I had it up with the help of a few other people. Now it’s been there for six or seven years and it’s still holding up, still a fun ramp. It’s a similar size to Malmo, nine and a half tranny with a foot and a half of vert.
We actually asked Chris Russell this one a couple of weeks’ back, but it works for this interview too – if you had to choose one only for the rest of your life, would you go backyard ramp or backyard pool?
If I had to choose one for the rest of my life I’d probably go backyard pool, just because…hang on, is it just the one pool?
Nah, you get as many different ones as you want.
Then definitely backyard pools, because there are so many different shapes and options – way more lines than a vert ramp: a vert ramp is kind of swing set. I like vert ramps because they’re fun and easy to get your tricks down, you get your board under you and get in to a good little flow. But pools, when you’re on your pool and tight tranny game, there’s nothing that beats that. Grinding a backyard pool, something that’s not made to skate, whereas vert ramps are made to skate…yeah I’d have to go with the pools, it just feels more raw. It’s natural, it’s not something created for that purpose, and it’s more pleasing for sure. You guys don’t have many pools over here, do you?
I’ve skated one backyard pool ever, down on the coast, and it was more wallride than transition…
Oh yeah, pretty fun though?
See, it doesn’t have to be the best thing but the satisfaction of finding something new…it’s like street skating in a way. You’re not supposed to be in these peoples’ backyards, you’re not supposed to be skating in front of these peoples’ businesses. You jack up the coping or throw your board and it chips the plaster or whatever…same with ledges. But it’s all…I dunno I’m just rambling, [laughs].
Nah it’s all good! So Vans have just announced their Pro Skate Park Series for this year, which should be pretty massive. Who’s your tip to smash the event? It’s a heavy line up…
Yeah it is a heavy line up! I’m gonna say there’s a bunch of dudes to just keep an eye out for during the Vans Park Series. Pedro, Chris Russell obviously, Rowan Zorilla too – he’s in there and he’s going to turn some heads. He’s just got an amazing style and approach. Who else? Kowalski is always shredding. I don’t know, there’s a bunch of people in there right? If Grant’s skating definitely look out for Grant, Raven of course. I hope my friend Cody Chapman skates them, he would kill it, he’s insane. Just everyone in that thing, it’s going to be next level skateboarding. It’s rad that Vans stepped up and bought something different to the table. It’s something that skateboarding has needed for a while – Street League has their nice formatted travelling contest and now Vans has started the Park Series, that’s going to be way better. It’s going to be rad – I heard that Sheckler is over Street League and wants to do this now, instead of Street League.
That would be dead interesting to see actually!
Yeah it would be interesting. I guess the street level is way too high and technical these days and he just wants to flow around parks, which is cool.
Josh knows vert. Frontside ragga
So last year you turn pro for Santa Cruz, who have a long history within skateboarding, so it makes sense to finish on some Santa Cruz themed questions.
What’s your favourite Santa Cruz video, and why?
Damn…I’m trying to remember the one with Frazier in…it’s not Guarte, or is it? Would you go Streets on Fire?
I think I’d go Troops of Tomorrow for the soundtrack, Gershon and Dressen.
I haven’t seen them all to be honest, but yeah Gershon’s insane.
Streets on Fire is the classic I guess.
That’s what everyone would say though. But yeah probably Streets on Fire, because there are so many legends in it. It just switched things up. Roskopp’s part, on the vert ramp – the one with the elbow? I would say Streets on Fire.
What team rider would you be most stoked to see back on?
Hmm…I mean Justin Strubing, for sure – love that dude, think he’s an amazing skateboarder. He kills it. I guess Cody Chapman actually, I’d get him back on because he’s like a brother to me and I’ve known him for so long, he’s always killed it so hard. Watching him grow up and always progressing, I think he’s one of the best skateboarders for sure.
Ok cool. How about favourite current team rider to skate with?
Probably E-Man, or Eric Dressen. Then Jason’s always a blast to hang out with too, he always makes it fun and is super enjoyable to be around. But everyone on the team is rad, they all kill it and all bring something different. It’s cool, we have a pretty good, diverse team right now and it’s cool to go on the road – we went on a little team trip the other month and it was rad to see everyone ripping and handling their shit. We got a good little squad over at the Cruz right now!
To finish on, what’s your favourite Jason Jessee story?
I don’t know if I’ve got many I can share, [laughs]. We went camping when I first got on Santa Cruz and he had some M80s, a bunch of explosives and I want to say a little handgun too. We went shooting at the campsite and he started trying to blow up this old tree, which was dead but still standing. It was, like, this 20 foot tree, just bare. My friend Brendan Klein, who was shooting photos at the time, was there with me and we were watching Jason trying to blow this thing up. He ran out of rounds and one of his M80s that he stuck in the tree to make it fall over didn’t go off. Next thing you know, Brendan and I are walking around, we hear this thing all of a sudden just break and the whole tree just falls down between us. Literally eight feet from each of us, it could have killed us and we barely even heard the thing falling. That was all Jason’s fault, he came back like, “Oh, it fell”. It was pretty funny…actually I guess that one’s more sketchy than funny, like, “Damn, we could have been killed right there”.
I don’t know, with Jason it’s not really stories, it’s more just being around him, his whole character and the way he interacts with things. He just turns the simplest things into jokes, playing on words, it’s just really clever and hilarious. It’s something you can’t really explain, or I can’t anyway, you’ve just got to be there and watch it go down in front of you because it’s hard to recreate.
After driving down under solid blue skies, we’d just reached the outskirts of Bath when the weather decided to open its legs wide and gush forth such a torrent that any idea of outdoor skateboarding for the day was voided. We rang the others – who had got to the park before us and were stoked that the rain had come just after they’d dried out the entire place – and organised a meeting point before heading to the M32 DIY spot. For those unfamiliar with the place, the M32 spot consists of a downhill slope dotted with various sketchily built wood and concrete banks, ledges and transitions, ending in a rough-as-arseholes DIY miniramp job at the bottom.
Luckily for my train and car damaged legs, the locals have also seen fit to recently install a perfect wooden miniramp with a solid 7’ extension on one corner. This was the focal point for the session with Josh, Ryan, Sam Pulley, Joe Habgood and Marc Churchill all getting stuck in straight away. Too many tricks to mention went down on the extension, but suffice to say that the photos you see here are just the tip of the iceberg! Meanwhile Josh found time to sneak off and nosepick the huge, kinked vert wall which runs up one of the pillars, and come back with enough energy to prep himself for his long haul flight back to the States with a long haul flight from the miniramp to wall bash off another pillar – definitely not a line I can see anyone else eyeing up anytime soon. He was on form…especially for someone who’d just spent five days skating and partying at Vert Attack and then been put on a plane to meet up with a bunch of people he didn’t know and be taken to dank, ammonia-scented flyovers to have, “LAND IT YOU MOSHER C*NT!!!” screamed at him repeatedly, something which people who haven’t grown up skateboarding in the UK or Australia can’t always quite comprehend.
ATF rider Ryan Price joined the party and stared into CJ’s soul whilst bonelessing
With a few photos in the bag, legs generally warmed up and Alan Glass’ ‘let’s get the fuck out of here’ session killer mix on the boombox, we headed out onto the still-damp streets to head for Campus Pool. A relatively new park, which a quick search for footage will show you has proved very popular, it is definitely laid out for a quiet session so we kept it low key until the kids started to thin out. Once the session did get going, I understood Ryan’s earlier statement of, “the big bowl corner is fine, once you finally work out where the line is…” This thing is undoubtedly the cherry on the park’s icing and the most photogenic part of the layout, but fuck me is it hard to get to!
Double the height of anything else in the park and with the obvious angle of attack negated by an uphill bank which sucks up your speed like a velocity vampire, you’re left with no choice but to a) carve around the lower section and fly out from the opposite corner without sliding out on the dusty concrete, or b) come from the other end, fit in a couple of rabid Howard Cooke style pushes and hit the small bowl corner sharply and hope you haven’t completely missed the line. The dust itself was another obstacle, sending Habgood on a ribs/bank edge collision course and nearly doing the same to me.
The latter line was actually the simpler option and got me to where I needed to be at least 50% of the time, but for Clever Ryan it didn’t seem to matter which option he took– he had the park’s lines dialled and was floating boneless ones and indy airs high above the coping with ease. By the time everyone else got back from another beer run, Ryan and I were pretty much ruined, so we tagged them in and headed outside for some herbal pain relief. From our spot out the back we could hear the expected levels of trucks to coping, cheers and board bangs and the anguished howls of Churchill getting very angry at his own skateboard. We got back in time to see Josh lay down some bowl corner justice before heading our separate ways for the night.
I woke up on day two pretty much incapable of movement, something only slightly alleviated by a bath, half an hour of stretching and a number of painkillers. Limping my way into Bristol, I jumped on a train to Newport and arrived at the park to find everyone else in pretty much the same boat. Nevertheless, we stretched out our protesting limbs and got cruising around the park. Pulley and Chav Dan can pretty much skate Newport with their eyes closed and it showed, while the bumps and vert wall section were ideal for Kieran Menzies’ fluid aerial assault. In fact the big quarter at the end of the bumps, despite being the park’s biggest tranny, is at the same time its most forgiving; making it a solid warm up for the majority of the crew. Once the session died down we headed out, bound for Hereford via Newport’s finest chippy.
Marc Churchill switch crooked yo. Photo CJ
Hereford is one of the South West’s best slices of concrete, but by this point the strain was starting to show and no-one was particularly fast out of the van. The exception to this was Clev, cementing his skate-terminator status with some solid charging around the bowl, and Kieran, who was possibly powered by the stoke of reviving a bee with a capful of Irn Bru earlier in the session. The most recent stage of the park, a flowing course running around the outside of the earlier build, was quickly marked as a spot for a selection of ‘challenges’, which kept everyone pretty happy until legs finally gave out.
The pool was mostly skipped over due to badly timed sunlight – not a common concept to crop up in a UK skate trip – but this was straight-to-the-eyeballs lances of UV which cancelled out any idea of skating the deep end. Despite this, the park was a perfect finishing point to have a cruise about, drink beers and conduct the interview with Josh which you see below. Cheers to Alan Glass, Shiner and everyone who drove, skated and sailed the rain swept concrete seas of the South West with us – it’s possibly the most damaged I’ve felt after a trip without having broken a bone. Good shit.