Last week the DC Special Delivery tour hit London, bringing with it this year’s SOTY Wes Kremer and one time Mile End local Madars Apse, alongside other members of the team both UK and worldwide. I caught up with Wes and Madars the morning before Mile End got a proper seeing too and we talked shit ranging from why Spain is still a skate mecca, to gnarly BMX wallrides, to Peter Smolik’s backside flip judo. Read the results below, interspersed with some photos from the day courtesy of our man CJ.
Sidewalk: To start with, can you introduce yourselves, where are you from and what got you into skateboarding?
Wes Kremer: My name’s Wes. Getting into skating was through the neighbourhood – seeing neighbourhood kids skating here and there. Then I found out my dad used to do it, my parents are actually surfers so I guess that had a bit of influence. I just ended up picking up a board, hanging out with the neighbourhood kids then ended up going to a skatepark and fell in love.
S: Is it San Diego? It’s probably quite hard not to get into skating there…
W: True! But at the time I was 6, 7 years old, not too many people I knew were skating. Just me and my homie Marius who I met in first grade; he skated, I skated, so we just started skating together.
Madars Apse: My name’s Madars, I’m from Ventspils in Latvia, a small town with a lot of sports around it. In my area there was an Olympic centre too, so I tried all sorts of sports before I got into skateboarding. Once I found the skatepark I tried rollerblading, skateboarding and then BMX afterwards too. Then after trying all the sports possible, I just…skateboarding, I thought it was the coolest.
W: The best choice of your life right there!
M: I know, rollerblading was too wack, BMXing was too gnarly, I could do anything besides no feet or no hands…We went to Southbank earlier, there was that spot where the BMXer road off that natural launch ramp, to wallride? A wall that starts maybe ten plus feet off the fucking ground…
W: We definitely spent some quality time at Southbank.
M: Benny was there too, ripping!
S: Today’s event is part of the DC Special Delivery Tour – where has this tour taken you and where is next on the agenda?
W: Next destination is St Jean De Luz, close to Biarritz. The trips been good man, started off in Barcelona then kicked it for a couple days, drove to Lyon, kicked it for another couple of days. Then drove to Belgium, a place that was hard to pronounce, but the fucking town was beautiful – our hotel was in the middle of a sand dune!
M: So Special Delivery basically means a delivery of shoes for the kids that come to the skatepark in each city. We go to the park and if someone’s skating there just having a good time it’s like, “dude you’re definitely getting some shoes”.
W: Giving shoes away to the heads that are just ripping, with a smile on their face having fun. Or if they have shoes that are jacked or ripped up…
S: How was the experience of being at something as big as Street League?
M: Oh dude, Evan Smith got third place!
W: Evan Smith is the shit…
M: He had a broken board and was just ripping the place up, it was so fun to watch.
W: He gets better every time I see him…540’s dude! First 540 in the Street League, definitely won’t see that often. You might see a 540 triple flip, but probably not a 540 on a QP. You probably won’t even see a 360 on a QP, you might not see anything on a QP [laughs].
S: You’re both pretty well travelled, what would you put forward as your favourite country/city visited, both skate-wise and tourist-wise?
M: My favourite country is Spain, both skating and living wise. As for a city, Melbourne is meant to have the best living standards…
W: Australia’s amazing. I have to mention the Spanish lifestyle too, but the Canary Islands for me. They’ve got that Spanish lifestyle ya know?
M: African continent, European country, South American culture.
W: It’s amazing out there, for quality of life and for skating too; the spots are so unique, people are super rad…girls are open minded…[laughter, and a conversation which somehow moves on to a discussion of dog eggs]
S: On a similar travel hype, do both of you have a tour story which stands out as the gnarliest/weirdest? Has anything matched up to Wes’ ‘Roofied in Rome’ article in Kingpin?
W: That was one of the most hectic times in my life, for sure. But it could’ve been worse. We’ve been extremely lucky to be as safe as we have, I’m sure Madars would say the same thing.
M: Yea, one time I boarded the wrong plane…actually in the Canary Islands that time. I got to the airport three hours before the flight, and thought it was two hours before the flight. So I get to the gate, sit down and wait for the line to join on the end. The guy was like “go, go, go, you’re the last person on”. Then I sat down, put my headphones in, after a while I notice the guy next to me is kind of stressing. So I take my headphones out, wondering what’s going on, and I hear them calling my name, “You shouldn’t be on this flight” [laughs]. There are plenty of stories which never make the daylight…
W: I dunno if I’ve ever told this one before, but five years ago me and my homies were out in Madrid with Transworld and Axl Rose was playing in town. So I ended up going to the Axl Rose concert, we were there with Chris Ray, Mike Anderson, Nestor Judkins, all with their shirts off and got everyone in the stadium to do the wave. Nestor was taking a piss in the corner and some guy sitting buy us, I guess just fed up with our bullshit, started talking shit at Nestor about him pissing. The dude knocked the piss cup out of his hand, it went all over Chris Ray who was still shirtless [laughs]. Then the dude punches Nestor and we all just stand up, you know a group of like 7, 8 heads…he was yelling then security came up, relocated the dude but then just stood by us the whole time.
Then near the end of the show, my homie P-Kid was like “yo, we should go onto the stage”. I was like “alright, let’s do this”. So the show’s in like a bowl coliseum, so they’re only using half the stage and we managed to make it and sneak round the back. When we made it down, the security guard catches us, asks us to follow him – then as he turns his back, P just bolts under the stage, like “come on man, let’s go!” So I’m like fuck it, bolt under the stage [laughs]. The dudes there trying to find us with his flashlight, flashing it under there, I guess gives up because it’s taking too much time so we’re chilling there for a hot second. Waiting for the song to end, November Rain or some shit.
S: You were waiting a long time then…
W: Right, we were chilling under there! P Found this cooler, got some waters for us and shit, think we smoked a joint too. Then we decided to move, he goes first and tried to hop on the speaker to get up on stage. The speaker caved in, so he just had his neck on the stage, looking up at Axl like “what up?” Then the dude from the teleprompter comes over, gets him in a headlock and he’s screaming for security. So I get out, see my homie in a headlock, look around and see the teleprompter going every which way. Pretty much the dude in charge of it had had my homie in a headlock so it was just going crazy. I turn around, see Axl, throw him the peace sign – I wasn’t about to barge on stage and get tackled. Security came in hot but they were just like “come with us”. They took us to the cops and the cops were just like “pfft, get outta here”, so we just got kicked out, waited for the homies, got some street beers.
S: That brings us nicely onto music actually as I know at least one of you is a big hip hop fan – do you lean towards 90s Golden Era stuff, or more modern tunes?
W: Pfft, they don’t call it Golden Era for nothing – 90s man! Early, mid, even late 90s were the shit. Artists were still sampling the right shit, taking time to get the right sounds you know what I mean? Now you can mix anything up on a computer, make it a hit – talk about money, diamonds and fucking bitches and make it a hit? Definitely Golden Era, I like music that gets you thinking. A beat that’ll get your head moving and lyrics that get your head thinking, some shit to get you hyped on life. Modern though, it’s gotta be Juicy J, you know that? That’s the only modern day artist I’m really paying attention too.
S: Madars, while we’re here I wanted to ask you about your Youtube show ‘It’s a Mad World’; how did that come about, and can you explain a little bit about it for those who haven’t seen it?
M: Well basically a production company from London approached me about two years ago and asked me if I wanted to do a show and said they would give me a filmer of my choice to travel with. It was an option to do something, at first I was kinda dreading it because 24 episodes in one year? Two a month is a lot of content, but it was good in the end and I’m super happy that I did it. Now 26 episodes have come out and it seems like it wasn’t such a big deal to do it after all. It’s a good experience, I get to try and be on a skate trip and also film something on the side too. We’re trying to get season two going now, we’ve got some ideas…
S: How does it feel riding for a team with the history of DC Shoes, people like Danny Way and Josh Kalis, mad OG heads?
W: Can you believe it, 21 years deep? Growing up I never could have pictured myself riding for DC and being on trips with those homies…I guess being a part of the fucking legacy.
M: Danny Way and Colin McKay, the best dudes out there!
W: They’re the people I grew up watching skate. I grew up going to the Encinitas YMCA in San Diego, with the vert ramp; seeing them there, I’d be blown away. Seeing all those vert dudes, Tas Pappas all the time just ripping, yelling at kids. He was scary when you were a kid, shredding, yelling at you in that gnarly Australian accent when you’re 8 or 9 years old.
M: I’m sure every skater’s had that experience before, looking up to someone who just yells or throws their board at you or something.
S: Have either of you got padded up and skated the DC vert ramp yet?
M: [pointing at Wes] He nosegrinded it! I filmed it, it’s not a regular vert ramp either ya know. Nosegrind, no pads…
S: How about the megaramp, has Danny Way invited either of you to hurl yourself over the chasm?
W: I wish man! Pat Duffy definitely paved the way once again for street skaters…on the megaramp. If you’re gunna do it, you gotta do it padless, hammered, at 3 in the morning on ecstasy. Just say “fuck it”, huck it and do it. [laughs] No cellphone, sneak on to Bob’s property. But naa, if he agreed to do it, it would be amazing to get that feeling – flying through the air, holding on for dear life and hoping for survival.
S: Wes, what’s it like touring with Smolik on Sk8 Mafia trips? Have you ever witnessed, or asked him to repeat the BS flip Judo from ‘Let’s Do This’?
W: Oh dude, Smolik? The backside flip judo, that was the shit! It was funny, he was trying a backside flip melon. The one he caught properly he just kicked his foot out and got that judo.
M: I always thought it was a melon, I never looked at it as a judo.
W: Naa, he got that kick dude. Best style ’98. He won best style 1998 or 99, he’s still telling you about it for sure. The first time I saw the real Smolik was when we went on a Mafia trip through the Midwest when I was 14. It was a month long trip but I only last 2 and a half weeks because my folks wouldn’t let me be on the trip that long. But yea, just riding with that fool, seeing what a fucking maniac he is – drinking every day, that’s when I seen the life as I know skateboarding today. I just stayed in the van, never left…trip changed my life.
S: So to wrap up, as we’re in London; Madars you spent some time living in London at University, as part of a course which saw most of your time spent in Barcelona. What are the main comparisons and contrasts between the two cities, both famed for skateboarding but obviously with very different vibes?
M: Compare them? One’s fast, one’s slow, one’s expensive, the other’s cheap, ummm…..one’s got rain, the other’s got sunshine, one’s got tarmac, one’s got marble…how else would I compare the two?
W: One’s English, one’s Spanish?
M: [laughs] Yea! But both are really good for skating, both have some good food, both of them got main spots – I love Southbank as much as I love MACBA. What I’m saying is they’re both different, but both similar…what I’m saying is, I’m not really saying anything [laughs]. I don’t really have a good answer to that one.
At which point, we decided it was high time to get some photos (the portraits you can see at the start of this interview) and then go skate! Cheers Wes and Madars for the interview!