Geoff Rowley ‘Cover Stories’ Sidewalk 200 interview

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013


Geoff Rowley
Sidewalk issue 119 : August 2006
Cover photo : Leo 



So Geoff the cover in question is from August 2006: you’re tailstall reverting the fence at 5 Bridges in an all-white outfit covered in blood with two black eyes – what’s the back story there?
– I was headed from the bar back to the hotel in Newcastle with Boulala, TX and I think Tom? These dudes were making fun of Rodrigo’s gear so I stood up and defended him and ended up fighting: from my recollection, about 6 or 7 of them. I don’t really remember too much after that. Next thing I know you and Horsley are knocking on my hotel room door in the morning: straight to the demo and then straight to Five Bridges.

That cover was shot during the first post-Sorry full on Flip tour with that insane demo at Prissick and a full squad in attendance – what memories do you have of that week?
– The football match after the demo was classic, Deacon (The Cat) in goal, Penny up front, we were unstoppable! (Laughing), that and the general healthy vibrations from all the locals was a highlight, much appreciated. Until next time…Rematch?

So 2006 – what was going on in your life at that point Geoff?
– Sorry and Really Sorry under the belt, Flip was doing really well. Shane Cross, David Gonzalez and some other new riders were added to the team. I was in full swing with my first major bout of injuries; it took a lot of strength personally to overcome those physical barriers. I had to dig deep to rise back up. I was filming and spending a lot of time with Ewan Bowman, working on graphics at Flip and some print ads with Fred Mortagne. It was a very fast time; that I do remember.

You’re somebody who has skateboarding deeply ingrained in your soul, you’ve been everywhere and done everything at this point, so why does getting the cover of a skate mag still mean something to you?
– I don’t feel like I have done everything, I still have goals that I would like to accomplish within skateboarding. My favourite cover is still my first, I remember skating at the green bars at the Liverpool Pier Head and somebody had the issue of Skateboard! Magazine and handed it to me, it did not feel real! I was tripping and humbled on the spot. “Why would they put this little scranner from Liverpool on the front?” That is all I kept thinking, over and over. I felt the same way when I got my first cover of Transworld over in the States – who is this dude? Why would they put me on the cover when nobody even knew who I was? Nowadays I still get that special trippy feeling when I get a cover. Print is timeless and tangible, that means something to me.

What was the first photo you ever had in a skate mag?
– It was Skateboard! Magazine and the caption read, “Jeff Roley, pint sized aggro one-foot” I was doing a one foot ollie over a nasty wooden hip in Hull, during a local skate jam; the photo was shot by Meanie and the weather was gray, grim and overcast, roughly 50 degrees with a slight chance of rain. The picture was 2 inches square, top corner of the page. It was my first skate trip in a van too; I was 13 years old. I think it was Howard Cooke, Robbie Reid, Jon Newby, Kingy, maybe Fez, and I think Neil Danz was driving, probably skinning up on his knee on the way. After the jam session we all went to this sketchy mini-ramp and Snoz was ripping! That was my first exposure to ramp and street skaters outside of Liverpool, other than seeing Jimmy Boyes blast down the street at 100mph, the original Durham ghost rider.

What’s been your favourite photo of yourself that has been run over the years and why?
– The first cover of Skateboard! that I mentioned earlier, two odd sized Vans Native shoes, my favourite grey elastic waist cotton pants, black speed wheels t-shirt, Santa Cruz Everslick deck, sunny English day and the location really helps remind me of those early days skating in Liverpool. I was obsessed! I loved it man! Such a good scene, such good people, still rings true today.

What would be your favourite Sidewalk cover?
– The ‘bloody white’ one, the messy one, the one that reminds me of a hard night and the strength and  madness that it takes to overcome the most brutal hangover and beating,
a nice slice of demo, a good football match and a healthy serving of street skating to round out the day.

As we’re on the subject of covers – your friend Jimmy Boyes is on the cover of this particular issue – for those people reading who maybe don’t really know too much about Jimmy, can you fill in some history on that f*cking maniac?
– Jimmy is a free spirit, a seeker, a lover, a skater, a man of passion and strong beliefs: he lives outside the bubble. A freedom fighter, driven to live to the fullest, take your negative vibes and he will cleanse them. A true Englishman, Northern soul, the hardier the better, weather-beaten, travel merchant: he has cycled across the U.S.A. from New York to Florida, Florida to San Diego, San Diego to San Francisco, then Seattle on a separate journey back to San Francisco, alone! Having never been to the States before.
He slept in graveyards along the way, was approached by a trucker and asked to perform lewd acts, chased by coyotes along a small highway in the night and many other equally as crazy things have happened during his constant travels. He has climbed all the major mountains in Europe and Mt. Kilimanjaro with a native guide, walking through families of mountain gorillas. He has climbed to base camp in Everest, just to check it out! He has also cycled across Morocco and Australia, he cycled through the Nullarbor Plain in Australia, one of the flattest and most arid roads there is. Along with these trips he has also cycled around the whole coastline of England during the winter, half way across Alaska with myself and a few smaller trips through the Arizona and Colorado mountains, again with myself.

Does this help the readers understand how rad he is?
I am honoured to call him my friend, he has been there for me and I appreciate who he is and what he stands for. Just don’t smell his socks.



Can you remember the first time you met him?
– I think I first met him in Neil Danz’s skateshop, Off The Wall; probably in 1989-90.
I remember that he had a blue long sleeve Thrasher t-shirt and green cargo shorts, Jamie Lee Curtis was written on his grip tape, having been inspired by her nude scene in Trading Places. Classic.

What are some the craziest things you’ve witnessed him do either on or off a skateboard?
– He will do/try anything that is humanly possible and within his reach. When Bob Burnquist 50/50 grinded the rail into the Grand Canyon, Jimmy wanted to give it a shot! He had only skydived once at that time, (laughing)! I had to calm and contain him. Jimmy lives for a quick and natural thrill. A modern day outlaw: lawless.

Why does traditional skate culture still matter at a point in history where Social Media and the Internet can grant everyone their 15 minutes of fame with minimal effort?
– Because we need leaders and not followers, we need individuality to pave new paths; we need a platform and hub to showcase the creativity and progressive aspects of skateboarding and its culture. We need magazines and online media to expose these things, but it must be controlled by the people that live and breathe the act for it to have the intended affect. Skateboarding has produced some of the most amazing photographers, brands, artists and creative minds that society has to offer, but that creative outlet must come from a direct source, not from loose online content.
Less is more…

How do you juggle being a company owner, a father and a pro skater currently working on one of the most anticipated skate videos in the history of skateboarding: do you ever have any free time?
– (Laughing). Yes. I use my free time to hunt; it cleanses my mind and spirit and connects me with what really matters. I get exposure to nature in a way that humbles me, and the rest of my life benefits. My lady deserves credit for supporting and understanding that if I get this personal time then I am a more balanced and healthy human. I need love from my family and support from my sponsors for it to be worthwhile: I am fortunate enough to have both.
The secret is to prioritise well and balance personal health. Skateboarding is a huge part of who I am, but it does not define me.

How’s the Vans video going?
– The filming is going great; we are in full swing as we speak. Not really sure of the deadline but I do know that the project is a priority for Vans, every trip is a filming trip, the dudes are getting into full video mode and from what I have seen it’s going to be radical.
I look forward too seeing the team line up in one full-length video: Ave, Trujillo, Chima, Elijah, Gilbert and all those dudes. Greg Hunt rules to film with! It feels like when I was filming with Fred for the first Sorry video, Greg and Fred are so damned good at filming! It’s super motivating when you have guys like that behind the camera.

How did you come to ride for Lost Art despite being a bone-fide skateboarding ‘celebrity’?
– Bone-fide? Bonehead more like! I believe in what Mackey does with Lost Art, the scene, the positive energy, the support he gives to young and old skaters, and the general respect that he has for people and skateboarding as a whole. I asked if I could officially ride for the shop and he was down. I am honoured and proud to support the area that I grew up in. It’s in my blood, even though I live Stateside.

Are there any particular skateboarders that you feel have contributed more than others to this sprawling multi-million dollar culture and if so, which ones, and what’s the substance of their contribution?
– I really like what Bam did for skateboarding over in the States. He showcased skateboarding to millions of people and in a positive and fun light. There are a lot of guys that deserve credit for going above and beyond the call of duty. Steve Van Doren at Vans is somebody that has done a huge amount of things for skateboarding as a whole. He has supported professional skateboarders, hard goods brands and the industry more than anybody that I know. Vans and Steve have put their money where their mouth is; he deserves an immeasurable amount of respect from the community for his contributions.

What’s the pinnacle moment of UK skateboarding in your opinion and why?
– Radlands Skatepark changed the English skateboard scene overnight, giving it a hub to thrive and a contest that attracted the best from all over the world. Chris Ince went out on a limb for us all. Thanks Chris!

How do you see skateboarding evolving from this point?
– The door is wide open, I see many an untapped avenue for progression in street skateboarding, it is in itself ever evolving and the terrain is always moving. We are far from exhausting the possibilities, look at the progression in the last 10 years, it is mind blowing how far it could go, both on the tech, burly and unknown sides. David Gonzalez has smashed down a few doors this last year.

Give us the benefit of your wisdom Geoff
– why is skateboarding worth it? – It teaches us all to get back up when you fall down! That in itself is a lesson worth learning. It’s a positive and immensely creative outlet and something that has given me some righteous memories and some damned great friends. I’m backing it 100%.


Feeble grind. Photo – Volcom


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