From Sidewalk 200 - May 2013
Sidewalk issue 64 : January 2002
Cover photo: Leo Sharp
So then Garry – the cover in question is from issue 64, Jan 2002 – what was going in your life at that point?
- Well, I guess I was living the good life at that point. I was pretty much just skateboarding. I worked for A4 (Sole Technology’s UK distributor) too but they were amazing and used to send me everywhere. I’d get like 6 – 7 skate trips a year and then they’d give me my holiday allowance on top, I have a lot to thank Allan Green, Darren Rob- inson and Pete Turvey for. Skateboarding was very popular and footwear and apparel companies from within skateboarding were very popular with the mainstream consumers. There was a lot of money about, everybody had credit cards and mortgages coming out of their ears and the airlines had really gone for it with cheap flight deals – you could go anywhere in Europe for the price of a restaurant meal. To cut a long story short, it was a good time to be a sponsored skateboarder and many of us were very lucky at that time.
What do you remember about shooting that front board? I know you’d done it once already but you went back with Leo to shoot the photo and hurt yourself – give us the story please...
- No it was the other way around, I took Leo there to shoot the photo and made it a bunch of times. I had to stack bricks under it at the half way point to make sure it was higher at the join in the middle on the closer side so I wouldn’t hang up in it. It was completely treacherous but I got away with it. I didn’t film it though. I went back there when I was filming Day In The City with Stu Bentley so that I could film it. I was confident because I’d done it before so I just committed on the first go but I didn’t take as much care to prop the middle up with the bricks and stopped dead in the middle and completely ate shit and broke my wrist again amongst other stuff.
Weirdly, that spot has gone onto become part of a custom-built skate plaza now, hasn’t it?
- Yeah, that spot is now the Pump Cage!
So a few issues after this one we ran the now infamous Woody v’s Slipknot interview, which caused a fair bit of controversy at the time and is still referred to regularly on the forum etc. Do you still stand by what you said about those infernal moshers? Do they still exist?
- Yeah, it was some rant eh? My mouth has got me in trouble quite a lot over the years, I just said what I thought in that interview, I’d probably cringe if I read it again but that’s just how I felt at the time. Skateboarding means a lot to me and I hate to see people f*cking with it. At the time all those Slipknot kids were a real stain on skateboarding. I guess they still exist, but not like the infestation they to be (in skateboarding anyhow). At the end of the day everyone can do or be whatever they want to be... doesn’t mean I have to like it.
What was the first photo you ever had in a skate mag? What’s been your favourite photo of yourself that been run (anywhere) over the years and why?
- I had a double page sequence in ‘Skateboard!’ magazine when I was about 13 doing a melon to tail over a funbox at the G-mex Centre in Manchester. I think it was taken by TLB – they called me Tom in the caption though. It was the issue with Geoff Rowley on the cover in Liverpool (if anyone has a spare copy let me know). As far as my favourite photo.... I really couldn’t tell you.
You were also present at the birth of the now legendary ‘check me out and chill’ phrase – what’s the story there?
- (Laughing), I love the fact that I was there! I hear that phrase used everywhere these days! It was Chez, Howard Cooke, Pete Hellicar, Rodney Clarke, Dave Allen, Leo Sharpe and me. We drove from Manchester, picked everyone up along the way and drove to Marseille via various places in France. The first stop was at a big Etnies skate comp in Nantes. Now, the UK has always had a different attitude to skate competitions than the Europeans and every time I’ve been away to a Euro comp it’s been first and foremost to have a bloody good time and then second to try and skate in the comp. Most of the Euro’s at the time were so serious so we basically just took the piss. On this particular occasion there was one guy call Marcus Juergensen who was probably a nice guy but he had such an arrogance about him: the way he skated, and the way he looked - he was just asking for it.
He’d grab his crotch after landing every trick for f*cks sake! Anyhow, he was so sure he’d won that he’d gone back to the hotel to put a brand spanking new outfit on before coming back to get the results. Anyhow, everyone else who placed was quite humble and sprayed their champagne and handed their prizes out to less fortunate kids etc. Old Marcus however went to collect 1st place, looking like a Brian Harvey from East 17 with a Euro twist, and proceeded to posture about the stage like a god, drank his champagne, grabbed his crotch, kept his prizes gave a speech over the mic... it was hilarious and all the UK guys were in f*cking stitches rolling around on the floor crying with laughter. None of the Euro’s knew what was going on. Later on we were all chilling out in one of the hotel rooms when Juergensen knocked on the door to ask for Rizlas, still wearing the same ridiculous outfit - we didn’t have any so he just gave us a wink and uttered the eternal, “it’s ok guys, just check me out and chill" and then trotted himself back down the corridor like some kind of crazy Euro hip hop enigma. Needless to say we were f*cking crying! The rest is history, check me out and chill, never has anyone said anything so perfect...
You’ve put out a good amount of video coverage over the years – what is your favourite section or bit of footage that you’ve released and why does it still stand out to you?
- To be honest I didn’t put out as much footage as I’d have liked. I never really got caught up in the filming culture, I hardly filmed any of what I feel was my best stuff. The two main video parts I had, I managed to injure myself quite badly half way through. I wish I’d been able to film more stuff in concrete parks. All the filmers back then were so against anything that wasn’t pure street though so most of my footage was on street. Looking back though I really hate the clothes I was wearing in the video parts. I was speaking to Hold Tight Henry just this week and we were speaking about the ‘trouser game’ in relation to a certain London skaters trouser game and how his footage looks so much better now he’s sorted it out. Basically, I played a bad trouser game in my past video parts.
Tell us the story about meeting Harold Hunter and then getting knocked out by Leo Sharp 15 minutes later please...
- Well, a bunch of us (you included Ben) went on a trip to New York to attend the opening of the Etnies New York office. We’d pretty much had 2 nights without sleep because of the journey and were absolutely knackered when we arrived. We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed straight out to meet Giovanni Reda and head for some beers. Out of all the people to bump into in NYC we managed to bump into Harold Hunter (RIP) who was dressed in a tuxedo. I think it’s pretty safe to say we were all pretty star struck!
Harold invited us to a party that he was on his way to with the promise of free booze and even though we were all knackered beyond belief we decided to go. At the party we got absolutely smashed, to the point where we were stealing bottles of rum from the bar and just chucking our drinks all over each other. We were out of control... Leo picked me up from the floor by my ankles and dunked my whole head in a big black bin that was half full of thrown away booze and it was f*cking disgusting! To get him back I got two pints of punch and threw them in his face at point blank range. No sooner had the liquid hit him, he floored me with a punch in the face, knocked me clean off my feet. I looked up shocked as f*ck and Leo burst into tears and ran off. Reda picked me up off the floor unable to believe I was still conscious and then I burst into tears too and ran off after Leo. We spent the remainder of the night sat with you (Ben Powell) crying in a bar telling each other how sorry we were – boozing out of control!! It wasn’t funny at the time but it bloody is now! (I should point out here that I was crying as well, but from laughter – Ed).
Were you pissed off when Grove went back and ollied the Gasworks gap 5+ years after you did it? What about when that Ozzie feebled Castlefield?
- Nah, not even! I don’t own any rights to it. I’m stoked someone else did it before they took the landing away, even more stoked it was Grove. For some strange reason though the Castlefield rail is a different matter. Me and that rail had unfinished business, I put a lot into trying to do that rail, I even ended up in hospital after being found unconscious at the bottom of the rail on NYE 2000. I’m stoked that someone did it but if I’m to be honest
I can’t bring myself to watch the footage, it’s daft I know, but that rail and I had an intermittent battle that lasted from 1998 to about 2002 and now I’m too haggard to do it.
Do you regret anything about your days as a sponsored skater looking at it from today’s perspective?
- I regret my trouser game... I also regret being as reckless as I was. I spent a lot of time not being able to skate through injury, trying things that were just silly and I used to do stupid shit like saw my casts off after 2 weeks. I’m paying the price for that behaviour in my old age. However, I had a good run for someone that I believe was a fairly average skater in the days where there was a lot more money about than today. I was very fortunate to have had those experiences and am eternally grateful.
As somebody who has been heavily involved in the skate industry as both a skater and an industry head - what’s your perspective on the current state of the UK skateboard scene and industry?
- F*ck, I clear tables with my speeches on this subject. I know there’s always two sides to every story and for every negative there is probably a positive but this is my just my opinion and I’m sure there are many holes to be picked into my view.
I love skateboarding, it’s f*cking ace, but I’ll refer to a Jason Jesse quote here, “I love skateboarding so much I wish it would die". I get sick to the back teeth of people wanking themselves off over various forms of hyped up bullshit made by huge corporate super companies who’ve jumped on the skateboarding bandwagon now it’s financially viable for them to do so. Where the hell are their blood, sweat and tears? Where were they when it wasn’t cool? Where were they when you were an outcast for being a skateboarder? Why in the f*ck are skateboarders so intent on supporting and promoting these companies? In my eyes skateboarders have a duty to protect the integrity of skateboarding and its culture. Skateboarder owned brands are as important as the skateboarder owned shops. We live, sleep, eat and breathe everything skateboarding and that’s all we’ve ever been about! The people that own and work for these companies have experienced all the same things as you have and know where you’ve come from. No f*cking netball, hockey, tennis, cricket, football, synchronized swimming etc, etc. If everyone keeps supporting the brands from outside of skateboarding then the corporate companies will have won and will change skateboarding into what they want it to be... after all they weren’t allowed to be part of skateboarding as it used to be – back then skateboarding would never let these companies in and they hated that. I’d urge people to think about what you’re buying into when you buy other brands over skateboarder run brands. Skateboarding used to be owned and run by the skateboarders, now some guys in suits are laughing all the way to the bank because they’ve finally worked out how to make skateboarders believe they give a shit. The way I see it is that generations of skateboarders grew up as outcasts cultivating a culture unlike anything else, a culture we should be proud of, why should skateboarders help the corporate companies who have f*ck all history in supporting skateboarding come in and take control because now it’s financially viable for them? They’ve not earned their stripes; they just throw money around to get people to believe what they say. It’s like they’ve said to us, “thanks for everything guys, but we’ll take it from here". The worst thing is though is that skateboarders are supporting this. There you go, hate away... Again. I don’t give a shit. I know where I stand. Stop getting mugged off! If we lose all of the core skateboard companies what are we going to be left with? A jock culture where skateboarders will probably end up wearing sports kits while they compete in the Olympics. Have you not seen the knobheads in the crowds at Street League and the X games? F*cking hell! Actually riding a skateboard will always be amazing; I worry about everything surrounding it.
Are you able to imagine a life without skateboarding?
- I’ve been skateboarding for nearly 27 years; I don’t really know anything else.
Smithgrind. Photo - Leo