Sidewalk Skateboarding Sidewalk 223 - Lee Rozee - Made Of Stone - Sidewalk Skateboarding

Sidewalk 223 – Lee Rozee – Made Of Stone Sidewalk 223 – Lee Rozee – Made Of Stone

The first copy of Sidewalk I ever saw had a Lee Rozee ‘Survivors’ interview in it. Being one of the scant magazines I had at the time it got scanned endlessly from start to finish, with Rozee’s stories of midnight hill-bombers and Bradfordian Andy Roy worship definitely having an effect when I look at my own personal skateboarding preferences now. It was also the first time I’d ever seen a miller flip, or really considered what this country had going on north of London. Fast forward 8 or 9 years and, having moved to Leeds to become a student, I met Roz on one of his visits over from Bradford. We were at the Works and he was trying 540s on the miniramp (the good one that got replaced with a climbing wall), I was stoked!

When he moved to Leeds I spent a good few hours sitting around at the crib, shooting BB guns at each other and drinking whatever booze we could get our hands on. I eventually got promoted from regular lurker to housemate and spent many nights skating the sketchy pool coping quarterpipe on the back street, talking nonsense and enjoying whatever strange cultural curio Roz happened to have bought home from his charity shop job on that day.

Having him screen printing and concreting, Serious Sam playing music, Alun Evans writing and various visitors who were deeply involved in DIY art of some kind or other gave me the drive to start writing properly; so I’m stoked that things have come full circle and I’m getting to write the introduction to an interview that a few of us undertook with the man himself. We worked through the distractions of pet squirrels and excessive amounts of innuendo to cover subjects ranging from 80’s cinema to guerrilla spot builds to the spam/butter pie abduction conspiracies. Enjoy…

Martyn: Alright Roz. How long have you been Lee Rozee for?

42 years.

Jono: And how many of those years end with a Christmas Day skate?

Probably a lot…probably more times than I’ve stayed in and eaten Christmas dinner.

Jono: What made for a more depressing Christmas Day session – getting the festive boot from Leeds whippy banks by still on-duty security, or slamming in dogshit skating a bank to fence?

Getting kicked out of the spot for sure. Sliding through dog shit in’t that bad.

Dave: What about slamming in fox shit up at the spot…what was that fox called?

Michael J. Fox – yea that was annoying, fox shit in’t nice.

Dave: Speaking of rancid things, I heard a story about Foxy and someone else having a competition to see who could be the biggest dirtbag, then realising you had Doug’s dried vomit on your top, what was that all about?

It was Foxy and Nick, on an Oregon trip and they were having a competition to see who could keep the same t-shirt on for the longest, they managed about 2 or 3 days…then realised that I hadn’t changed any of my clothes for about 2 weeks. But on a skate trip you shouldn’t need to change your clothes, you’re only going skating.

Jono: You can sweat out the dirt anyway…staying on the grimness hype: I’ve unofficially dubbed this trip North ‘The Search for Spaminal Chin’. What’s the appeal of spam?

Spam? Oh dude, don’t get me started. I ain’t eaten it since I heard about the spam conspiracy though. Basically they reckon that if you eat spam whoever it is that abducts people, aliens or whatever, they can’t eat food but they feed out of your stomach…I dunno, sucking the liquid out and eating it like soup. If you eat spam basically, that’s the taste they’re after. I can’t remember it exactly, but if you get abducted, they try and eat the contents of your stomach and if it’s not tasty enough then they implant you with something to make you crave spam. Then when you go back down you eat a lot of spam and next time, boom (laughs). That’s the only conspiracy I’ve seen that mentions 1in40 (watch SMA – Debunker for clarification), something like 1in40 people have implants in their hands.

Dave: What’s the best spam creation you’ve made? I’ve walked in on you making some banging spam combos.

I dunno, probably the eggy bread one, with the spam in the middle.

Joe: I’m sure we’ve had some 2am spam and egg buttys before…

Oh yea, plenty of times. But yea, I haven’t been eating it in a while. I’ve come up with another theory but I’m not going into it here…well I might do. It’s the butter pie theory. If you replace spam with butter pies, which, you know, you get the same satisfaction from spam as you do from a butter pie. It’s the same kind of thing but opposite, maybe if you eat butter pies they won’t abduct you. That’s the butter pie theory. You still get the satisfaction of eating something good, but you ain’t gunna get abducted.

Jono: In South East Asia they have 40+ flavours of spam…

I told Rees that story, you know Ian Rees, the other night. It freaked him out, he was like ‘I used to eat spam loads as a kid and I’m sure I’ve been abducted’.

Dave: Out of everyone you know, who do you reckon has been abducted?

Oh man…definitely Garry [Giomarelli].

Dave: They’d probably learn some stuff…

Jono: So how many times have you been to the States now, and on what trips?

Probably about 7 or 8 times I guess.

Jono: And is that how the LBP/Real connection came about?

Yea I guess, but that’s them guys – I don’t know them personally, but I guess Frosty met Thiebaud and that’s how that came about. I just went to San Francisco in ’95 with Scott Palmer and Jamie from Hull, just because we always wanted to go there and skate. Been back there a couple of times since, just normal skate trips I guess.

Dave: What happened about the time you met Stevie Williams?

I don’t wanna talk about that,  (laughs). Can’t talk about pro skaters I don’t know, they might get pissed at me…

Dave: Ok, what about positive pro encounters, in the States – guys you met and thought, ‘They’re awesome?’

Karl Watson, super nice dude, he’s just down.

Dave: Didn’t you help him pull at a party once?

I guess…me mum might read this you know, (laughs) gotta keep it on the PG!

Dave: Well I did want to ask about Snoz and a Wisdom sticker – Tom Brown told me to ask about Snoz running through Exit, naked with a Wisdom sticker on him. Were you there that day?

Nah, but I have a similar story. Snoz wanted this snowboard jacket from Wisdom, when it was in Bradford, and I think Dave Wynne said he’d give him it half price if he posted a letter for him, naked, but he was allowed to put stickers on his nob. So he takes off out the shop with this letter, obviously we didn’t go with him so I can only go off what Snoz told me. He didn’t know where the post office was, so he goes out and it’s Friday afternoon near the University. He went in this little print shop and asked where the post office was, she just started screaming at this big dude, naked in her shop. So he ran out then found it, posted the letter and came back…got the coat, simple as that, (laughs).

Jono: You must have a few good Dave Wynne-based stories from Wisdom?

It might take me awhile, there’s that fucking many…

Dave: Didn’t he used to really fuck with shoplifters, booting ‘em in bollocks and that?

That might’ve been Lecky…actually nah, I think that was Dave. I’m drawing a blank, he’s done that much crazy shit. He knocked Lecky out. Actually it wasn’t a knock out – basically he’d been taking these kickboxing lessons. They taught him a few self-defence moves, how if you hit people in a certain place it just messes ‘em up. One of the places was in the thigh and Dave ran up to Lecky, who didn’t know what he was going to do, booted him in the leg and he just collapsed on the floor and whitey’d or something. I guess it was because he didn’t know it was coming but yea, kicked him in the right spot and that was it. I think that’s what it was, I guess my memory’s a bit fuzzy on old stuff. Dave’s fucking crazy, I’ve seen him do loads of dumb shit. I remember when we were in Tumblers, the nightclub we used to go to, we were all on the dance floor and it had just opened so no-one else was really in there. We were just stood around talking and it was that phase in skateboarding, he had these massive baggy jeans on – he somehow pissed down his trouser leg onto the dance floor without getting them wet. Sometimes you’d be stood around in a circle talking and he’d just pull his knob out and start pissing, you’d think ‘what’s that splashing on me? Oh for fuck’s sake Dave…’

Dave: What was the best 90s style, baggy pants or otherwise? Did you ever do the double tongue?

Never did the double tongue, but had a couple of pairs of big pants. Boards weren’t really optional unless you had leftovers from the 80s, cos they were all 7.5 inches wide with tiny wheels. Going into the 90s was sick, then as soon as the pressure flips hit it sucked for a bit. Then I guess Eastern Exposure kind of showed everyone that you could skateboard properly again.

Jono: So do you reckon it’s better now than in the early 90s pressure flip era? Obviously there’s massive changes happening with skateboarding looking like it’s getting into the Olympics etc…

Yea all that stuff sucks! All the media and corporate stuff sucks, but skating’s still the same if you’re with the right crew and skating the right spots. It’s always good – if you’ve got those ingredients with you at all times, you probably won’t have a down phase in your skateboarding life.

Jono: What’s the gnarliest situation you’ve been in on tour? I guess we had the right crew for Joe’s birthday in Morecambe Bay, but not so much the right spot…

Were you there yea? That was gnarly. We set up camp, somehow got a fire going even though it was pissing it down the whole time and then sat around drinking beer and smoking. Joe and his mate Ollie went to the tent to go to sleep, I went off to get more wood and when I came back the water was all round Joe’s tent.

Joe: We hot boxed the tent and fell asleep, then basically woke up in the sea.

So we had to rip the tents out, run up the beach, up a hill, throw them over a barbed wire fence and into a field – then sleep in a farmer’s field, or lay there wet through for a few hours then get up. That was pretty gnarly…

We’d camped there a couple years previous and I’d slept on the path on this hill because I didn’t have a tent, and I woke up at the bottom of the hill, me back were hurting and me shoes and bag were still on the path – but that night it didn’t come in and flood us.

Joe: Lau and Jord left their tent in the sea and it floated away.

But I guess tides change that much that it was the same time of year, but this time it flooded us out. Other than that I don’t know. I once slept behind some shopping trolleys in Northern California with Doug (McLaughlan) and Silent Will. It was pretty cold, then there was a big mountain of snow over it when we woke up, we were like ‘that’s why it’s cold’. I couldn’t feel my legs all night. Other than that I don’t think I’ve had any really gnarly experiences, except maybe this Mexican guy, Ernie, the first time we went to the States. He basically offered me, Scott and Jamie out, ‘You three, let’s go now’. He was gunna kill us for some reason, but he was drunk; the next day he made us all burritos and he was cool for the rest of the trip.

Joe: Do you reckon cockroaches are aliens?

Maybe, or spiders.

Joe: Yea spiders are aliens man

Jono: Nah, spiders are chilling! Cockroaches are aliens, but spiders aren’t.

Dave: I reckon they both are, just different species.

I don’t really know the facts, but I’ve heard that there’s no other insect that is related to a spider on earth…

Jono: As we were bringing the conversation closer to home, let’s talk about DIY spots. Obviously you were building that DIY quarter in Bradford, with Ollie (Barnes), right?

Yea, with Ollie and Robbie.

Jono: And this was before the DIY/guerrilla build boom of recent years?

Yea you’d never really see owt, other than things that Snoz had built or people who’d just concreted up to curbs. I guess we just thought we’d try it, and it’s still there. Then I guess there was Needleside. Oh yea, Parfitt and that did the barrier spot up in Armley. I think that’s still there but there’s a fence around it, and you get kicked out straight away.

Needleside started about 2009, the same sort of time that New Bird got started. Now I guess there’s the new one. Well there was The Joint, which was good, and the wasteland ledge and BMX-built quarter.

Dave: What’s the best DIY spot you’ve skated that someone else has built?

The Flower Shop was good. That was sick, kinda like Needle but harder, tighter. It’s pretty stupid when you go there; it’s a lot tighter and smaller than it looks. There’s loads of stuff around Oregon – them parks – but they’re all too gnarly. Burnside I guess, Marginal Way when it was just Jersey Barriers and the back wall, it was sick when it was just like that.

Joe: You got some footage at the Flower Shop didn’t you?

Yea but it got nicked, that sucked. Someone left the window open for the cat and someone must’ve climbed in, stolen both me cameras and the pot of money for Needleside. Anyway, I’m trying to think of other spots. New Bird, that’s sick. Or it was before the council fucked the floor up…reconcreted the floor and didn’t smooth it off. The spot in Wales was sick, under a bridge – Welshside, Stu Forder I think built it.

Jono: Oh yea, I remember seeing some Doug photos there…

Joe: What’s a good Doug story, skating or otherwise?

Just his story in general!

Josh: Wasn’t he puking or something the other night at Lois’ leaving do?

Joe: Fucking hell nah, we were in’t back of Dean’s van, it was Doug and me and Lois’ mum was behind us and she passed out because she was drunk. Then Doug heard her wake up and say ‘I’m gunna be sick’ so I just jumped up and she put her head forward and just started whiteying in Dean’s van. He just instantly put out his hands and started scooping it out as fast as she was puking. Then she managed to kind of get her head out the van and as she was puking he was trying to scoop it out the van, but just playing with the puke basically. As he was doing that I was pouring beer on his hands to try and wash the puke off…

And the next morning, because I don’t really drink any more, I was up before everyone else wandering around the car park, puked up a few times – just some white shit and a couple of onions. The woman opened up a bar for us with a coffee machine and stuff so we went in and got tea, Doug puked all his tea back up then I puked all my tea back up too, it was pretty funny.

Joe: The woman that owned the pub, she’d just opened the door and was sat there when we walked in to get a brew. First thing she was like ‘How you doing this morning’ and he was the first to answer, ‘Oh yea not bad, just had to get out the tent din’t I, been farting all morning’. She didn’t answer…

Because she had this big tepee that loads of people were sleeping with and I had a bivvy bag which I just threw over the wall, jumped in and went to sleep. I climbed over in the dark, when I woke up I had a massive horse shit about 3 feet away from my face and a massive dry stone rock on the other side of my leg and somehow I’ve got in between them and had a real good night’s sleep.

(Blinky shows up)

Dave: What’s the weirdest pothead experience you’ve had?

I guess when I was a kid and we were smoking hash up on the moors overlooking Halifax. We basically saw, I dunno what they were. They looked like stars, but they were flying all over the place, kind of playing with each other. Flying at each other and stopping dead, then setting off again and leaving a trail behind them. That was pretty weird, that’s probably the thing that seemed least like it was from here, y’know?

Blinky: They Live, or Repo Man?

That’s a tough question. I’d have to go with Repo Man, but They Live’s a close second.

Jono: What would you list as your top three 80s’ movies?

Oh man, that’s tough! When was the 80s again? There’s too many – it’s just the way they’re made and the way they’re structured, the pace of 80s movies or 70s movies that’s different from now. Now it’s faster than the Internet, you can’t even see what’s happened there’s that much going on. On the other hand I watched that movie K-Pax the other day – that was pretty bonkers. Jeff Bridges is this psychiatrist, and Kevin Spacey appears and gets arrested. He doesn’t have any ID so he says he’s from K-Pax, which is another planet, so they send him to this psychiatrist played by Jeff Bridges and it goes from there. I can’t really tell ya, but you should watch it…Christine’s gotta be up there when you’re talking about 80s movies….

Dave: What about top 80s skate vids?

It’s gotta be one of the Santa Cruz ones I think, for influence ya know. I’d probably go with Streets on Fire:  that was a good one.

Dave: What’s the best prank phone call you’ve ever made? We’ve been listening to the Larry Perkins extra on Six Newell loads and getting on the prank calls…

Oh man…I’m not much of a prank dude really. I dunno about calls, but we did do the bar of soap prank with Sam (Barrett). When Sam Little and Sophie were living here we went up to their house and they made a big pasta dish. We had this big block of cheese, for some reason Willy bought it back and he had a knife with him and was carving it all the way back to the house. We carved it into a bar of soap, I had some Imperial Leather upstairs so we peeled the sticker off, stuck it on the cheese and put it on the bath. Sam doesn’t even normally use soap, he uses shower gel but I just said there’s some soap he could use, we nicked it from some student’s house or whatever. So he started using it and he said he was rubbing it on him thinking it was really weird soap, that didn’t lather up or owt…like, rubbing it on his balls and stuff. The thing is the older it got the more it started to smell like cheese in the bathroom, but it was all cracking and looked like a bar of soap so much. We told him in the end…

Blinky: You must have some good stories from the old house? (Mayville Avenue)

Dave: How about Jord pissing himself on ‘shrooms?

That wasn’t funny…

Blinky: I think we all lost our minds on that night…the room turned into Lego bricks and I turned into the armchair, I was sinking into it and foaming at the mouth. Then the Lego brick walls started swirling round my head, the next thing I know everyone’s just laughing at us.

Blinky: What are your favourite SF spots?

Fort Miley was good…

Blinky: What’s the closest you can get to SF in Leeds or Bradford spot-wise?

Maybe the library banks in Bradford…it’s kind of a Fort Miley type steep bank spot. That’s a failsafe that spot, it’s been skated since the early 80s I think and you’ve never really got kicked off there.

Jono: What do you think is the reason behind Bradford having so many amazing spots compared to a lot of other towns and cities of a similar size?

I guess cos it was pretty industrial, loads of mills – the city centre is small but all the industry is quite close to the town so you could skate out of town in 5 minutes and you’re into loads of industrial units. Plus it’s all built on hills, every way into the city you have to go down a hill. Hills kind of make spots for you sometimes…I need to get out and bomb some hills, I haven’t really explored Meanwood yet because I pretty much moved in and then got operated on, so…

Jono: Now you’ve moved and don’t have storage for the screen-printing equipment, do you think you’ll get it back and get back into it at some point?

Hopefully yea, I don’t want to get rid of it. It’s at my friend Geraldine’s house, but it can’t stay there for that long.

(The house’s pet squirrel dives onto Roz’s shoulder)

Josh: He hasn’t been up in the curtains yet, maybe tonight’s the night…

Jono: He was up in the curtains last night!

Martyn: Beef curtains…

Dave: I was up in them beef curtains last night.

Dave: What are dog eggs?

Dog eggs? Well they’re different from cat eggs. I guess dog eggs are turds and cat eggs are cat eggs, because cats lay eggs.

Martyn: Eh?

(The squirrel freaks out at the laughter and runs into the curtains. The next few minutes are spent with everyone trying to make squirrel noises to coax it down).

Martyn: As if you’ve got a squirrel…

Jono: Who found it?

Josh: It was Dean.

Dave: It was me, Dean and Pope in the car. He saw this squirrel by the road, jumped out, it winked at him and that was it…

Blinky: He’s seen some fire squirrel booty outside!

Maximum focus for those green gains. Tree ride, Yorkshire.

Maximum focus for those green gains. Tree ride, Yorkshire.

Dave: I’ve got a question – how come there’s that clip of Ash from Evil Dead at the end of your Wisdom section?

Just because I love that movie. I wanted the whole speech on there, but oh well.

Dave: What’s your favourite of the three?

The third one, because it’s stupid.

Blinky: What’s it like skating street now, as opposed to growing up skating in the streets of Bradford?

There were more skaters…in Bradford there were a lot of skaters in the 80s, but it mellowed out in the 90s. You got busted more, you got more tickets in the 80s because there were that many skaters, but in the 90s they weren’t bothered.

Blinky: So did you have good contacts with people in different cities, around the country?

Not really, just around Yorkshire. Then met the LBP guys through going to Wakefield, to the skatepark, in the 90s. I guess Percy Dean used to come to Bradford to gigs, Adam and whoever, I kind of met them through that…

Josh: Do you reckon Leeds or Bradford has better hills to bomb?

There are probably bigger hills in Leeds, but all of Yorkshire has good hills. We skated some good ‘uns in Thornton the other day. It’s pretty gnarly though, the ones down back roads with so many blind corners and rough bits of road. The ones up in Queensbury, which go down to Halifax, you know the tarmac with the gravel in, and when the gravel wears out it gets super shiny and smooth? There all like that, it’s so fast hitting them…

(Another squirrel interlude)

Blinky: The interview’s just going to fade out into you squeaking at a squirrel for ten minutes…

Josh: I’ve had a sick idea for the spot; take a photo of the clam when it’s at the first stage, for the front of the t-shirt, then do another for the back when it’s completely finished.

Dave: I’ve finished in a few clams…

Are you still recording?

Jono: Yea, I guess we should bring this to a close…

Dave: Close them beef curtains man!

Jono: We’re closing the spam curtains!

Joe: We’re finishing stage 1 of the clam…

Jono: What’s next for Lee Rozee?

Same again – repeat the whole thing – skating, screen printing, building.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me out over the years:

Morbid at Rip Ride Skateshop, Air, Wisdom, Mischief, Endemic, Welcome, Native, Alan Glass at Shiner Distribution, Nick Zorlac at Power Distribution, Sore Skateboards, Reece Leung for the pics, my landlord Vince! Sketch Stance. Dave Tyson, Jono Coote, Blinky, Pope, Joe Howard, Josh Rose and Martyn Hill for the quiz: (I think I failed?). The Mayville Crew, surgery, skateboarding, screen-printing, 1in40 weirdo’s, DIY ‘crete, LBP, RWTB and Yadig? Records.