Let’s start at the beginning, what’s your job title?
For those unaware, give us a brief run through of a typical day?
I get into the workshop in the morning and have a cup of tea and biscuits, then make anything out of wood basically, as obvious as that sounds. I make all sorts of things from doors and windows to cabinets. My boss will run me through the drawings and then I’ll just make it.
How did you end up in this industry? Did you leave school and do an apprenticeship?
I left school and started college doing bench joinery then got an apprenticeship pretty much straight away. I’ve always been interested in woodwork because my granddad was a carpenter and my next-door neighbor was a joiner/carpenter, so I had an insight from an early age.
Where did you train and how long did it take before you were qualified or they trusted you to do something big?
The college I went to was a few towns over in Stourbridge. When I finished there, I got a job at a joinery workshop in the Black Country where they specialised in bespoke joinery and shop fitting. My apprenticeship lasted for three years and when I was qualified I was taken on as a joiner. At first you sort of help on other joinery jobs throughout your apprenticeship and then they trust you more and more to gradually take on your own projects, and you start running your own jobs eventually. You start with just little jobs and gradually get the bigger ones as you progress.
Are the hours and pay ok? And how do you find being a sponsored skater for a cross selection of brands, all with their own demands and pressures, and keeping a fulltime job going?
Yeah, the hours are good, I work 8am-5pm Monday to Friday and you can work all weekend if you want more money. The pay is really good now too.
The majority of these photos were shot earlier this year when you were signed off work with a broken wrist. How did you break it, what was the situation at work when you told them, and how gnarly was it leaping around big transition and street spots with a sketchy cast on your arm?
I kept breaking my scaphoid so had to have a bone graft from my hip and have a bar put in it; it sucks but my wrist finally works again. I don’t think they were too happy about it at work; the worst thing about it is I broke it twice in one year so had like six months off, which was a bit of a pisstake. I got on with everyone at work so they were alright; I probably would have been sacked from any other company.
Having been born and raised in Stourport in the West Midlands and training/working there for the first few years of your career, you recently moved to Bristol and have taken on a role at a company there. Was this decision influenced by your time in Bristol whilst filming for Little Paradise, and what are the main differences between the two places of work?
I’ve been wanting to move to Bristol since I first came down here when I was 17 but I only just got the guts to do it. I was coming down every weekend for like six months and staying in Jimmy, Kenny and Manhead’s spare room, so I was like “I might as well just move into it”. I was on the way to a vert comp at Creation with Joe Habgood and he told me his friend was after a joiner at his workshop so he gave him my number and it went from there really. My old workshop was a lot bigger and did more commercial modern work, where as the workshop I’m at now is more traditional joinery. Because I’d trained at the company in Stourport and had been the younger guy/started at the bottom, I was kind of always treated a bit like a kid. The new place – Wessex Kitchens – is rad and both of my bosses skate and I work with a bunch of skaters including Phil Parker, the legend.
Whilst on the subject of Little Paradise, you were late to the table as far as dudes to get the nod for a featured part in the project. Did you just get yourself to Bristol every weekend and make sure yours and James’ paths crossed? I guess that’s the kind of motivation and drive you need to get coverage, especially a full video part in a ‘non local video’ or web clip, if you’re based somewhere as remote as Stourport…
I’d always be in Bristol with Andy Coleman and the crew so would end up out skating with Manhead and James Harris anyway. It just happened and I’ve become really good friends with them all so it just made sense to film a part for the video. It’s so good with everyone living together because it’s just really easy to organise to go filming.
Frontside houseride over Coca leaves – photo CJ
It sounds like things in Bristol – with both the new employers and your own skating – is more your kind of scene. Who do you skate with when it comes to transitions and what are you going to do for vert sessions now you’re so far from Creation in Birmingham?
Living with Manhead helps as he’s always down to skate transition. There are so many sick DIY spots in Bristol but I guess a vert ramp is the only thing I miss now I’ve moved. Victoria Park in Bath has the new bowl which is pretty big and that’s easy to get to on the train from Bristol. It’s basically a concrete vert anyway and there’s always the vert wall at The Deaner too.
I was looking through your Haunts which ran in issue 209 (February 2014) and it seems so weird that you lipslid that big rail in Droitwich. How have thing changed for you and your skating style since then, and would you ever skate a big rail again?
The only reason I did that rail is because Luke Kindon crook back lipped it first try, then did it like three times in a row just to get me hyped, the loon! If I skated with Luke more I guess I would skate rails more. I skate way more transition now than ever but I do love to go street skating, but I just do stinking mosher tricks (laughs).
With a career on your side and I guess to a certain extent you’re in a position to fund your own skating, at this stage what does sponsorship mean to you and what plans do you have within that role?
It’s just a good laugh and I love going on trips and filming with all the boys and just enjoying it, so the plan is to keep on having fun.
Are you going to stay in Bristol for the foreseeable future? And what are your long-term goals within joinery? Do you become a boss/foreman at some point or is it a case of you setting up your own place a bit further down the line?
I don’t really know what the plan is for the future, I’m just going with the flow at the moment. I’m going to stay in Bristol for as long as I can because it’s really good here. I’m living with the best people and if it stays like this I guess I will be here for the foreseeable future. My plans for joinery at the moment are to just keep working hard and learning as much I can, and if In the future if I’ve got the money and knowledge to start my own joinery workshop I will, but right now I’m more than happy doing what I’m doing.