Sidewalk Skateboarding Matlok Bennett-Jones Haunts - Sidewalk Skateboarding

Matlok Bennett-Jones Haunts Matlok Bennett-Jones Haunts

Hailing from Hillsborough, Sheffield, (no, not the town of Matlock), Matlok Bennett-Jones is a down-to-earth, levelheaded lad whose versatile style of skating will surprise you. 

When I first met Matlok he was chucking himself down stairs like any other young dude but with an unusually dope style. Since going on a few trips with him over the years I’ve watched how much his skating has developed from that initial meeting and these days you could literally take him to any spot and he'd have something decent for it.

Also known for the odd 'Crend' while drinking at various skate-event after-parties, he's always managed to recover his dignity afterwards by smashing it on a skateboard the following day.
He's also got a thing for girls with large backs....

"My neck, my back, my back and my back"

At only 20 years of age he has recently found himself a spot on Passport Skateboards and become a solid addition to the UK Converse team. Backing it up with a banging section for the Converse Cons video: 'Blend' and with another section on the way for James Cruickshank's new video, things are looking bright for Matlok.

Witness what the energetic Bieber lookalike has in store for you right now.
He won't disappoint! 

So Matty – set the scene; what are we doing right now? What’s going on?

We are sat in the RE Hotel in London; myself, Mike Arnold and Tom Gibbs are present. Drinking beer, having a nice time, about to go to the ‘Blend’ premiere.

The ‘Blend’ premiere indeed, correct answer Matlok.

This is like your radio voice, (laughs).

So, second question: Have you ever been to a video premiere where you are in the video before?

Nope, this is the first I guess ‘part’ I’ve ever had in a video, which has been pretty cool to film for. This is the first time I’ve been to an actual showing where I’ll be able to feel uncomfortable watching myself skate on the big screen, (laughs).

I was going to say that I always get really nervous before these things; are you feeling a bit nervous about it?

I don’t know…I don’t feel nervous now that I’ve seen it a couple of times, I think obviously if I’d not seen it and didn’t have any idea what it was going to be like I’d be freaking out a bit, but I’m alright now. Obviously I still feel a bit weird…I think you always do feel weird when you’re watching everyone watching your skating.

Yeah, when you’re watching everyone else, especially if you haven’t seen it before. I guess you’re lucky that you have…

I definitely feel a bit better because of that.

But you weren’t involved at all in the editing process were you, so you only just saw it today?

Oh, I was. Well, I wouldn’t say ‘editing process’, but I worked on the Super-8 sound. I went around with (James) Cruickshank the other day because he wanted to record sound for his Super-8 footage in the video, so we were cave-manning off ledges to get the sounds of impacts, and run ups and stuff.

There’s actually a clip where I do a frontside 180 over a rail into a bank and I fall over, so to get the sound of me falling over we went back to the spot, and I tail ollied off the rail and purposefully slammed to get the sound of the slam, so that was pretty nice, (laughs).

Amazing. So you have been a bit involved?

Yeah…slightly.

Proper backside 360 ollie into pure shiver-me-timbers territory.

Proper backside 360 ollie into pure shiver-me-timbers territory.

So…we should into talking about the basic things. The name ‘Matlok’, talk us through that – where does that come from? It’s a rare one…

Yeah, it’s obviously a topic that comes up a lot when I meet people, and there’s a bit of a misconception about it because people assume there’s a huge story behind it, but it’s literally because my dad has the same name as well; he always liked the name.

I’ve tried to get it out of my mum, like, “why did he always like the name?” but she’s still slightly confused herself. I think it’s something to do with the army…well, not the army really, something American, maybe the navy, I don’t fucking know. It was just a name that he’d heard of and he liked a lot.

So it’s nothing to do with the town Matlock?

No, not at all: a year before I was born, my dad changed his name to Mattlock, and obviously the place is spelled ‘Matlock’, my name isn’t spelled like that, my name is spelled ‘Matlok’, and my dad’s is spelled ‘Mattlock’, (laughs).

So he changed his name to Mattlock, spelled really…weird, and then when I was born he obviously thought it would be cool to call me Matlok too, though he spelled it completely different to the actual place as well.

It makes meeting new people pretty interesting.

It’s a memorable name.

I think it’s more the fact that when I meet someone, I’ll say, “alright, I’m Matlok”, and they think I’m introducing myself as my full name, you know ‘Matt Lock’. Honestly, I’ve met people and been skating with them for a full day and they’ve thought my name is Matt Lock. Sometimes I’ve known people for months on end before they’ve realised my name’s not Matt Lock.

You’ll have to start introducing yourself as ‘Matlok Bennett-Jones’.

That’s it, just give people my full name, (laughs). A lot of the time when I meet new people, Cruickshank has heard me say before, “alright, I’m Matt” and he’ll be like, “What? Matt? Your name’s not Matt” and call me out on it. But like I say, it’s something where I wish there was some massive story, but my dad just really liked the sound of the name.

Fair enough.

…and it can always be shortened to Matt, which is a plus.

Another simple question for you: how do you get money?

How do I get money? Erm…I work in Size, which is a trainer store that’s owned by JD Sports and it’s meant to be their ‘quirky’ sort of shop. They stock exclusive trainers and stuff there, so it’s not as bad as dealing with the scumbags in JD, you get people who are like skaters in there basically. It’s alright, you get paid and get money from it, you can never be as enthusiastic about it as something you enjoy, but it’s a job.

I was doing that in town but now I’m moving to do that in Meadowhall Shopping Centre, and if anyone knows what that place is they’ll know that it’s an absolute nightmare. I’ll be working there over the Christmas period, which will be good.

I worked at The House Skatepark in Sheffield for four years prior to that.

You stopped working there – how come?

It was over-staffed and there weren’t a lot of hours going. I’ve got to the point now where I’m 20 and I kind of need to be getting more hours and look towards moving out and stuff, so I needed to get a new job.

Is that something you want to do? Move out?

Yeah, soon…obviously it would be nice to get a little skate house with some people.

Still in Sheffield?

Yeah…I don’t know, it depends. I can get a store transfer with Size to another city, so I think I need to test the waters a bit, figure out what I want to do.

Where would you want to move?

I’ve been to Bristol and the scene is really good there, then obviously Manchester is incredibly good with a good scene and the dudes out there are really dope. I don’t think I’d really want to move to London.

Why not London?

I think it’s too big for me. Growing up in Sheffield, where it’s a small scene and, in terms of the city centre, it’s really quite small, it’s something that I’ve become used to. I really like going to London now, I get quite a vibe off it and it’s quite exciting travelling and skating different spots. Maybe in a few years, but right now it’s quite overwhelming.

I know exactly what you mean. It’s good for a weekend but if you were here the whole time I could imagine it taking its toll. It’s so hectic.

Working at Size is good though, I’ve been there for about six or seven months now and it’s just money I guess. Daz helps me out through Rollersnakes as well.

Little Matlok prevails where many before him have lost their minds trying. Ollie up to 5050, 4-wheels down on vertical out. Pisstake.

Little Matlok prevails where many before him have lost their minds trying. Ollie up to 5050, 4-wheels down on vertical out. Pisstake.

The first time I saw you skate was at The House comp…was in 2014? The year you won, where you backside 360 flipped the stairs?

I think that was maybe 2013.

OK, 2013. That was pretty next level. Did you practice for that at all?

No that was something that like…whoops, just dropped my phone, (laughs).

I think that year it was kind of weird; you know when you’re in a comp atmosphere and you start trying shit? I remember Harry (Lintell) was there and he was hyping me up as well. I was skating all day as usual, that park is like the place I’ve been skating since I was literally 6 or 7 years old.

I started skating at that skatepark. My mum luckily was really supportive in terms of me skating, and when I first got a skateboard she’d take me down the skatepark; she was really down for it. So it’s a park that I’ve always skated and I think I was having a really good skate that day. I’d just learnt them over hips or something, I’d back 360’d the steps then someone shouted it out, or I thought about it, and I think I either put down or at least caught the first one I tried.

It’s a bit of a hectic move but I got caught up in the hype and started trying it.

It was a crazy session though – you did a bunch of tricks down the stairs – back biggy, back 3, back 3 flip, as well as loads of other technical ledge tricks and everything. It did look like you’d been skating there your whole life, which is actually the case.

I go there every day, sometimes regardless of the weather just because I really like that park. I’ve been skating there since I was in nappies, but obviously I just had a really good skate that day.

You recently left Landscape for Passport through Keen (Distribution). How did that come about and why did you decide to make the switch?

I didn’t leave for Passport, it was more of scenario where I’d been riding for Landscape for about four years, I get on with those dudes really well and Snowy in particular has helped me out a lot, I’ve got nothing but respect for that guy. But after the trip, I came back to Sheffield and I thought about it quite a lot, I thought I’d taken it as far as I could go in terms of skating for them and I didn’t see any future. When I thought five years ahead – as bad as it sounds in skateboarding – I didn’t see myself still riding for them.

As soon as I started having thoughts like that, it wasn’t cool for me to keep taking boards from them, so I spoke to Snowy. It was really hard for me to articulate how I felt because I’m quite a weirdo so it was strange for me to actually have to tell him how I felt, which was horrible to do but I couldn’t have asked for him to handle it any better, he was super cool.

It’s never pleasant when you leave a skate company even if you’ve been riding for them two months or a year, so after four, nearly five years it was really horrible but it was something that I knew I wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily leave for company, I just knew that I needed to not get boards from them any more so I could think about what I wanted to do.

It’s quite a difficult thing to think about, like what you want to do in skating in the future.

Just to have that thought in the first place instantly cringes you out.

Yeah, so you don’t even really want to think about it. But what do you ideally aim for?

I don’t know. I’d like to not have to work any more because that fucking sucks. I think that’s literally it. I’m not gagging for it, like I just want to get paid however I can, but I really like skating so to be able to do it all the time would be really good, then I can worry about working in my later life when I need to. I know for a fact I don’t want to be working every day then only skating on the evenings, I want to be skating all the time. To get to a point where I can be comfortable doing that would be incredible.

Do you think that your view on sponsorship has changed since you were younger? Before you were sponsored you might have had a different view on it…

I think it does for everyone. I always saw it as the older dudes who were sponsored, like I’d see Jerome (Campbell) and he’d have nice new things all the time, and I’d be like, “oh, that’s what it’s like” whilst I’m out skating with my wrecked shoes, you know, (laughs).

When you’re young you’re quite naïve; you think there’s so much money in it and you can live like Nyjah Huston and shit, but just getting free stuff is really cool. I think you almost instantly get used to it, and sometimes people can get too used to and expect everything for free.

There is a lot of work that goes into it as well though, when you do get sponsored.

There is a lot that’s expected of you, and that’s what you don’t understand when you’re a kid, you think you get to a point where you’re skating and you get stuff for free, but you’re essentially getting paid by someone only you’re getting paid in product so you have to put stuff out. For me it’s good, it gives me motivation to go out and do things, film and shoot photos and stuff, which is obviously important.

Do you stress at all when you film or shoot photos?

Yeah, I think to an extent. Everyone does, unless you’re Ollie Lock, he doesn’t stress because he’s a fucking weirdo. I do especially but not in the classic sense of been like “oh fuck!” when you can’t land a trick, I stress out a lot more at the environment of the skate spot really. Like if there’s a car coming or people on a double decker bus looking at the spot, or you’ve got people walking past and they stop and watch, or ask you about it…even when people are being genuinely nice and trying to ask about what I’m doing, I hate it. I don’t like people looking.

Yeah, when you start looking at it from their perspective, they must think I’m crazy…

I think going for a trick or trying something at a spot, all you usually get when people are walking past is, “oh, you’re skating? You could break your bloody neck on that” and then, for me in my head when I see people watching me, they just think I’m going to fall over, then if I try it and I do fall over I’m just giving them what they want.

I know a lot of people have the same kind of thing.

It seems to be quite a reoccurring theme – skaters being quite weird. Why do you think that is?

It’s going to be so weird just repeating this, (laughs).

Yeah but only us three know…

Lets make a note that we did just talk about this, but the phone deleted the recording, (laughs).

Well, all skaters are insane. If you look at Einstein’s definition of insanity, it’s repeating something over and over again and expecting different results, and that’s the basis of skating, or at least trying to film tricks.

I haven’t heard that one before.

(Laughing). When you look at that definition, it’s essentially what trying a trick – or trying to shoot a photo, or trying to film something – is; you’re just trying something over and over again and expecting to land it. Sometimes you can land a trick but you want to do it better and it just shows that we’re such an odd bunch, you know?

I don’t really like to define skating as ‘a sport’, but when you look at other things like football, there’s nothing else like skating and I think that’s why you get a group of people in skating that aren’t like other people. It’s kind of cool. I mean a lot of people relate to it but when you start skating in school, in secondary school, you get a lot of kids who start doing it but you see a lot of those same kids who like football or like sports, they kind of drop off and they don’t pursue it like other kids do.

That happened a lot for me, I started skating in school – me and a bunch of other friends did – but they all stopped and carried on playing football and I carried on skating. And that’s because I was fucking nuts, an absolute tweaker, and they were just normal kids.

I guess it just separates the normal kids from weird skater kids. And I kind of like that stereotype because, you know, you don’t want to be ‘normal’ do you? Skaters are weirdo’s and do embrace that stereotype.

I definitely think that no matter how normal anyone acts, we’re all weirdo’s in our own way.

You’re quite gnarly when you skate actually – you skate handrails, stairs and sometimes quite big drops. Do you ever find that the fear gets in the way of technique when you’re doing that sort of thing, or do you have a way of coping with the fear?

For me, the thing I was talking about, about seeing people in the background and if anyone is watching then I can’t try it; if I’m trying something down stairs then it’s a hundred times worse because obviously the risk level is much higher. I feel like if someone is watching and I’m jumping down these stairs and they want to see me slamming then I can’t try it.

For me lately I’ve noticed that the main thing that gets me to commit is if someone offers me a beer or some money, (laughs).

Reece (Leung) is good for that.

Reece is really good. If you’re trying a trick, trying to shoot a photo with him and you can’t do it or it’s kind of scary, he says, “beer this go”, and you just go for it. I’m quite bad for that…I kind of rely on it now, but it works.

I’ve shot a lot with Reece and he can be quite persistent but at the same time he does get the best out of you. How has the process of shooting this Haunts been for you?

It’s been good. Reece has shot all of my photos for this. It’s been quite a while actually; we’ve been shooting over something like a year and a half, maybe even two years.

Reece is someone that I’ve always known, then I got to know him a lot more shooting the photos, and like you say, he gets the best out of you.

He’s definitely one of the more enthusiastic people that I know in terms of wanting to go skating all the time, and he’s always got spots and always wants to do shit. It’s quite infectious; it really does get you hyped. I’ve got mad props for Reece, apart from the amount of times you do a trick then he’ll ask you to do it one more time. That’s the classic Reece quote – “one more, one more” (laughs).

More precise tube balancing, this time with a cheeky backside 180 from a kinked ender.

More precise tube balancing, this time with a cheeky backside 180 from a kinked ender.

So slightly off topic now, but you went on the Rollersnakes trip to the highlands and skated loads of crazy spots – what was that like?

That was with CJ, Daz and some of the Rollersnakes dudes, which was basically Daryl Dominguez, Nick Roberts and me. We went up to Scotland, deep into the highlands. It was meant to be for that Store Wars thing but we kind of used it as an excuse to take the money that they gave us and make a really fun trip out of it.

It looked like you had a special camera for it.

Yeah, Daz got one of the dudes who works at Rollersnakes to film it on a RED Cam; he rented that out. It was cool man, he could have maybe taken some of the money and been like, “right, we’ll do this”, but he used it all and took us on a nice trip.

We skated spots like I’d never skated before. You obviously skate reservoir spots every now again, there’s a couple in Sheffield for sure, but quarters that were meant to serve as water defenses and stuff that I’ve never skated in my life. Especially in Scotland, it’s such an amazing place, I’d recommend anyone to go there that’s never been. There’s nothing else like it; everywhere you go you’re constantly glued to the window, looking outside. It definitely translates to the spots too; you get some really crazy shit.

We’ve been to a load of crazy places this year actually, haven’t we? Even though the majority of it for this Converse video has been in the UK.

Yeah, there was just that one trip to Poland. We spent five days in Sheffield and two of those days we went up to Newcastle. We’ve been to London a couple of times, then you guys went over to Bristol, and we went Manchester for a weekend as well. We’ve been to a few cities and spent a few days each time there, then we went to Poland for a week which was really dope.

We always seem to have pretty wild nights out when we’re all together as the Converse team. Why does that happen? Because it doesn’t make things easy for us, (laughs).

I think it’s because we’re all sort of around the same age, our personalities are quite similar and we’re hyped on that. I’ve been on trips before where you’re with mellower dudes and you’re quite content just sitting in the hotel room, but, especially me and Jamie (Platt), I think it’s just the vibe.

I know a lot of the time we’ve tried to drag you out with us, Harry is always down, we drag Ollie out most of the time as well, Dom not so much now that he’s ‘celibate’ (laughs), but before he was always down for crending…

You and Jamie seem to be going out after girls a lot of the time.

I think it’s just because we’re younger, we want to go out and talk to girls, (laughs).

But you haven’t been successful recently. Why do you think that is?

I think especially for me, I might get to a point where I talk to a girl but then I think, “right, I need to have a few more beers before I can carry on talking to this girl”, and I ruin it for myself quite a lot. The proof is in the pudding a lot of the time too. Look at the Skate Copa event, the adidas thing. I threw up all over myself, pissed myself…

..and didn’t get any girls?

Nope. There was no action for me that night, (laughs). It’s literally that I get to a point where I get quite nervous and think I need to get more pissed, even though I’m already quite on a level, I just end up putting myself to sleep. That’s my downfall; maybe I’ll try and not get pissed tonight.

(Laughing) Good luck with that!

A lot of times that we do this shit in London, we’ll be at a free beer event so I’ll be like, “lets get a few more beers, lets get a few more beers” and I’ll speak to a girl but before I know it I’ll pass out and wake up the next day to all these stories about how I pissed myself, (laughs).

Do you want to tell us what actually happened when you pissed yourself? Because there are rumours going around…

I’d like to clear the story up. It was at the adidas Skate Copa event, in 2014.

I’d like to set the scene – I was driving there, in the car with Dave (Addlington) and Timmy (Garbett) and everyone from Slugger, and I had five pounds in my bank account for that weekend. I’d just turned 18, started drinking and going out.

I remember being really stoked, having a few beers, going to the party and taking full advantage of the free bar. I think I had six or seven drinks at a time, but I went back to the bar and got the same amount about five times. I had half a pint, and I think it was Ryan Price from Birmingham who took a bottle of gin from behind the bar, he poured it all in my pint, and obviously I tried to look cool in front of everyone and downed it.

The next thing I knew I woke up the next morning thinking, “that was a nice night”, and Dave looked at me, pale, white as a ghost, like, “I can’t believe you’re still alive, we were so worried”. I looked at my clothes and they were covered in sick.

I proceeded to get up, and then I thought, “whoa, I actually feel so bad”. I can remember boarding the bus the next morning to go to the football pitch and everyone applauded me as I walked on because they couldn’t believe I was still alive.

That happened, I got really drunk and maybe along the way I might have needed a piss and been too drunk to get up…I don’t know, it could’ve just been a beer that was spilled on me in the crotch region…who knows? (Laughing) We’ll never know.

I did leave all my clothes in that hotel room though; I didn’t even take them home. Just to clear that up – an 18-year-old dude, skate event, free bar…it’s a recipe for disaster isn’t it?

Have you learned for your lessons?

Well I haven’t pissed myself since. But tonight is another free bar so it could drastically change, (laughs). Yeah I guess I have learned my lesson, I’ve been to all these skate parties in London before and I’ve not been as bad since, I just think it was a bit of a shock to the system.

My mum actually saw the photos as well. She was like, “you’ve been sick haven’t you, this weekend?” and I was like, “no”, then she said, “I’ve seen it on the internet”. She was going on the Slugger Instagram and they’d reposted this photo of me passed out in the street, so that was quite nice for her to see, (laughs).

So that wasn’t a photo for the wall, to hang next to your cover?

No, she was not stoked on that at all.

Huge thanks to: All you guys for doing this, Reece Leung for putting up with me. Rob, John, Hat and everyone down The House Skatepark.
Jerome Campbell, Cruickshank, Henry, Mike, Jamie, Ollie, Dom and Harry!
Mike Halls, Trent, Cameron, Vaughan, Snowy, Daz, Baines, Liam Cooper, Timmy, Ash and all of the Thursday Club! x

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