In a virtually unprecedented move in the annals of British skateboarding culture, one of the most prominent skate companies in the world recently embarked on a range of collaboration product with the Midlands-based Get Lesta crew. There’s nothing new about inter-brand collabs obviously, but this Voltron moment differed from all of those that preceded it simply because the guys behind Primitive were collaborating with a crew – not a brand, not a skater, not a shop – a crew, who go out and make UK skate videos together for the love of it, (well, and to satisfy Callun Loomes’ thirst for blood, but you can read more about that below). As part of the process, Primitive flew over Diego Najera, Trent McClung, Devine Calloway and filmer Kev Perez to join Callun, newly anointed UK Primitive rider Charlie Munro, and various Get Lesta heads on a 10-day mission starting in the capital and venturing as far north as Leicester itself. The idea was to film an edit with both crews bouncing off each other and skating some of the spots that feature heavily in Get Lesta’s video output. Leo Sharp caught up with the Get Primitive ensemble in Bristol to shoot some flicks along the way as well as a mandatory whistle stop MK visit and then we sat Get Lesta founder Callun Loomes down a few days afterwards to get the scoop…
So Cal, how the hell does a crew of British skaters from the Midlands end up being in the middle of a collab with one of the highest profile skateboard brands in the world?
Honestly, I have no idea; I still find it mental myself. Rock Solid first approached me about putting Charlie Munro on Primitive, testing the water I guess just to see if he was keen. As soon as that was sorted we were put in contact with them in the States. It was clear from the outset that Primitive weren’t interested in having a ‘UK team’ through the distributor or anything like that, from the start they wanted Charlie repping directly. Then obviously they wanted a welcome clip from Charlie so I linked them a load of footage we’ve got saved for Get 420, which they were hyped on. I’m not really someone to give up footage to people’s sponsors as it takes far too much time and costs too much of my own money to film for Get Lesta projects: most people in the crew know that, so if they need footy for other projects they tend to film it with separate people.
The collab idea was proposed and seemed like a solution where we all – Charlie, the crew and myself – could be involved, which we were all stoked on as it felt like a real collaboration with Get Lesta as a whole.
Were you approached directly from the States, or did it come through Rock Solid Dist over here?
Originally I was introduced to everyone through Rock Solid – but since then we’ve just dealt directly with Heath (Brinkley), Kev (Perez) and everyone in the States. Charlie hits them up and his packages are sent out from there too.
So this began after Charlie got put on Primitive?
It was about a week or so after, we got put in a group email with a load of people from the company and had to start brainstorming ideas. I was stoked that they got Get Lesta involved and wanted to work together, rather than just stealing him away from us (laughs).
I remember speaking to you around the time there was first talk of this Get Primitive collab and you were fairly convinced that somebody was taking the piss, right? At what point did you realise it was real?
Yeah for sure, I thought it was Eric, Mike or someone on a fake email pissing about. After a while the emails were too well spoken and formal to be from any of my mates, but even at that point it still seemed a bit too out-there of an idea to actually happen so I wasn’t overly convinced. I kept it on the down low in case it fell through or didn’t happen or whatever.
At this point we were just talking about doing the collab, there’d been no mention of sending riders over, or filming a clip or anything.
The whole project first got mentioned in March, and the Leicester City football theme was the idea but would only work if we won the league. Miraculously we won and in May they sent some mock-ups over for ideas of the board and clothing range. It wasn’t until a month or so ago when the catalogue of the products got sent to UK shops for orders that I realised that it had to be real.
Charlie Munro flip 5.0’s in Bristol Blackness – Photo Leo Sharp
At this point Cal calls up Primitive head-honcho Heath Brinkley to get his input…
What’s the background to this from your perspective Heath?
Heath Brinkley: We started hooking Charlie up with boards and recognised how sick Get Lesta was, we loved the camaraderie the crew had and the way Get Lesta made their videos, so we wanted to do something with Charlie and crew.
What was it about what Get Lesta that caught your interest?
Heath: I’m a fan of skating first and foremost and when I see a crew who is out there getting it for the love, making fun videos, I back it. What I liked the most about the GL videos is they reminded me of my crew growing up, just being about skating all day, doesn’t matter if you have a job, if you’re getting hooked up or whatever, you just go out and get it with your friends.
So you’d watched the previous Get Lesta videos then I assume?
Heath: For sure! I’d watched all of them. Why would we go into a collaboration and not know what the guys were up to?
The Internet is crazy isn’t it?
Heath: Oh yeah, the Internet is both the best and the worst thing.
Was that how the Charlie Munro hook up happened?
Heath: We were introduced to Charlie through Wes at Rock Solid initially, we were impressed and wanted to have him involved properly. We view our international dudes as Ambassadors for Primitive so Charlie gets boards directly from us in the USA.
Back to Callun…
So break down this 10-day mission that you’ve just been on – what was your role in it? I mean any collab with Get Lesta is basically you and your mates, so were the whole crew involved?
Kev Perez and I were on filming duties, with Charlie, Diego, Trent and Dev skating the whole trip. My lot just joined in as and when they could. I wanted everyone to come along for at least a day so that everyone had a trick in the clip. Unfortunately this trip fell on the same week as NASS so most of my lot had to attend that. Golding, Mark, Bushy and Goose all managed to fit a couple of days in and get some footy for it though. It worked out quite well: four Primitive riders and four Get Lesta riders.
Your whole deal is ‘the mission’ – getting up stupidly early, generators, hours in the car, rinsing people until they make their trick, etc etc. How true to that Get Lesta spirit was this? Were you down enough to rinse the US guys? Or did you have to be polite and diplomatic?
It was true for Charlie, the poor bastard (laughing). I shared a room with him for the trip so he couldn’t breathe. He knew it was important for him to try and rack up the footage though so he was cool about it. The other four were in a separate rooms so they could escape, plus their phones didn’t work in the UK so they were pretty safe from the torture that we usually inflict on each other. I obviously rinsed Charlie and my lot but held back to the US guys for a while, as I was concerned that they might not get the banter. Plus when I break Bushy’s leg every six months, we can turn that into a funny thing, but if I was involved in hurting one of those guys, I doubt they would see the funny side to it. In the US all the spots are so far apart that you have to travel so much that they’re only used to one, maybe two spots per day. Over here you can skate about ten spots each day easily, and as you’re aware, if most people hit ten, I’ll hit twenty to make sure they’ll sleep easy.
Talk us through the dudes who came over – you just spent ten days with them so you must be able to give us a quick portrait of each of them from what you’ve experienced.
1) Diego Najera – Machine.
2) Trent McClung – I’m pretty sure he’s related Will Golding.
3) Devine Calloway – We tried so hard to get him to say anything bad or negative about someone/something but think it’s impossible. Nicest guy ever.
4) Kev Perez – Skate Dad
Bushy drops the V-Bomb on home turf. Photo James Griffiths
From the perspective of a guy who’s around really high levels of skating all the time, what one trick freaked you out the most and why?
I’d say Diego’s switch front heel over the bump to bar in London. That was pretty much the first thing he did on the trip so it shocked me the most. Obviously I enjoy watching people huck down stairs, but it’s easy nowadays to watch fearless kids just commit down stuff. Not many people could switch front heel a bump to bar like that: it seemed like it was a curb to him. But then again, I guess he’s used to skating over picnic tables in lines so it pretty much was a curb!
Where did you spend the most time?
Our spots are obviously terrible compared to what they’re used to, so they wanted to go to the famous UK spots. That mainly consisted of St Paul’s in Bristol, Southbank in London, Buszy in Milton Keynes and Sneinton in Nottingham. Those are all plaza type spots where everyone can film something, the only down side is that you get trapped and spend the day there. We had two days in each city so on the second day I would get them involved in some UK crust. Overall, I think we spent most time at Buszy; they loved it there. It’s also a safe option in case of rain, although thinking about it now, we were really lucky with the weather. It only rained once in the ten days, which is rare.
Were there any moments where it was funny to see a famous American skater at a particular spot? Like you know, “I can’t believe Diego Najera just did whatever down the Aldi 5 in Mexborough”?
To me, just filming lines at Sneinton. Mainly because I don’t go to London or Bristol very much so that was kinda new to me as well. But Sneinton (as you’re very aware) is a weekly spot for us. So having them guys over, riding Get Lesta gold boards and reppin’ GL tee’s, fully down to film with me, Charlie and Bushy seemed like the funniest thing. Same at Buszy, because that’s a regular thing for us as well, it was funny to have them skating the T-block with Mark (Stern), Bushy, Zeta and everyone. Even the stuff they filmed on phones there was next level, let alone the footage kept for the edit.
What’s the story with the edit? Who’s editing it, who has say over it, how true to the Get Lesta spirit is it going to be?
Heath has told me to edit it so it has a Get Lesta feel, which I’m stoked on. It’s a collab, so input has to be from both sides. Heath has a million times more experience than me so he’ll oversee everything and make final changes to the edit.
When should we expect it?
I’m doing it as we speak, although I’m not entirely sure when it’s going online. Hopefully in the next two weeks, the boards and clothing will drop at the same time. A lot of it comes down to getting the music cleared, obviously for me that’s never normally a problem – I just rinse ‘Party All The Time’ hundreds of times and hope no one sues me (laughing).
What about the collab stuff? What is there product-wise?
The collab board comes in 8”, 8.125”, 8.25” & 8.5”. Then there are two short-sleeved shirts and two long-sleeves. I sent over a mood board of all our current tee’s, previous logos and artwork. Plus, by this point, Leicester had won the League so that was definitely going to be the theme and the colour way to the products. I got sent a bunch of ideas so I could choose my favourites, then we decided which to go with. Rock Solid contacted everyone so every shop that made an order will have the proddy.
What’s next after this? Tony Hawk in Coventry? Surely this one can’t be topped, right?
Tony Hawk in Walsgrave fountain in Cov, that’s what’s next.
Nah, we’ve got another collab lined up for the end of the year hopefully.
How quickly were you back on the Get 420 grind after the Primitive guys left?
I was in the doghouse because I’d been away for two weeks, so I went to the zoo with my bird as soon as we got back (laughing). The trip finished on Friday and I was in Wolverhampton on Monday morning with Bushy straight back to Get420. It’s the last month or so of filming for the vid now, so I want to hurt people.
Ok so speaking from experience – what does ‘success’ feel like Cal?
(Laughing), “For me, success feels like personal freedom, happiness, and feeling affluent. All four of these feelings can be achieved right now without me having to wait for any significant changes to take place in my life.”
(I Googled that answer: you give me dickhead questions, so I’ll give you dickhead answers – ha ha).
Anything else that you want to say?
Massive, massive thanks to Heath, Kev, Dev, Trent, Diego & everyone at Primitive – Big up! Maybe Charlie as well, he did well too I suppose.