James Foster ‘HAUNTS’ interview from Sidewalk 203

From Sidewalk 203 – August 2013


James, Jimmy, Foz, Foster kills!
No amount of words can do justice how offensively good he is and no amount of cliché lines ever will. I first met the lad at Hyde Park (which he has made his primary habitat) many full moons ago. At first I was going to rugby tackle him thinking that a feral dog had escaped into Hyde and was causing terror in the skate park, but then I realised the dexterity in his thumbs; rolling and eating red Leicester sandwiches. Since then I’ve grown to love this cute-as-can-be mutt and appreciate all the time I spend with him. Here’s to you Jimmy boy, you’re the best!

Photography by Reece Leung & Interview Guy Jones 


Given that you were raised in the rural Swinford, what’s a country bumpkin like you doing in the hustle and bustle city of Leeds?
– I came here for Uni innit. I checked out Manchester as well but it was the day Steve Irwin died and they were all just ripping on him. I used to love Steve Irwin (laughing), so it was the wrong impression straight away. I came to Leeds and it’s sick. There’s so many skaters and they’re all sound as f*ck.

What do you miss the most about your fox-loving county of Leicestershire?
– My dogs man, I always walked them. I remember the day I came to Uni,
I had a tearful last walk with them and knew that I was gonna miss these guys.

How has adapting to city life been? I heard you literally had no public transport for miles where you were raised
– must be a big change to be in Leeds… – Yeah there was no public transport at all really; I had to get a ped when I was 16 because I had a lifeguard job at the time, so I had to get to that. I almost hit a badger once and he shit himself, (laughing/badger impression).

Do you think your upbringing in those surroundings has influenced your adoration of nature?
– Yeah I reckon so, being surrounded by it you can’t really ignore it, I was always walking dogs like, being out in the fields; playing with the cows, feeding the horses and laughing at the sheep. When the sheep get out of their original fields you have to chase them back in, so my collie mentality would come out.

Pat always claimed the only advantage of the Midlands is that it gives Northerners somewhere to take a shit when they were on their way to London, is this true?
– I thought you said that man, (laughing), well where do you think we go for a shit when we’re visiting Scotland?

Good point. You’re keenly interested in Biology, animals, plants and the natural world in general, lay down some nature insights for the readers.
– Well for my dissertation I did ‘stress responses in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana’. It was pretty mad, that was testing and shoving them in microwaves seeing how much they grow and react. The weirdest thing we did was to do with genes. We basically mutated tomato roots and potato leaves. We gave them the reporter gene, which gives off UV and essentially made them glow.

It was inevitable that this interview would repeatedly mention the subject of dogs, what with you being one and them dominating a good portion of your interests, so what are your favourite breeds of dog?
– I like all the breeds to be honest; they’ve all got their own little personalities I suppose. The way they move is pretty individual, some bounce up and down – they get their swag on down the street.

What kind of dog do you see yourself as, appearance wise and personality?
– I’ve got the hair like a labradoodle, personality wise I’m more on the collie side; herding people up, like scooter kids if they’re by themselves I’ll just get in there and bark at them a bit, (laughs).

Don’t you currently walk dogs such as Sherlock (pictured for haunts portrait) for pennies too? How’s that for you and does it fill the void of not being around your own dog?
– Yeah it does but it’s not the same dog, so it’s like a completely new friend. I love the bond you get with the dog; you can just go on little adventures together, buddies and that.

Have you ever had a wank over a dog?
– (Laughs), don’t be stupid, that’s a stupid question: they’re dirty little animals man.

You’re a dirty little animal!
– Well that’s why we get on so well.

Not the nicest bank in not the nicest area and definitely not Street League. Grim ollie to cobbled bastard ride out.

What else do you for the dollar-dollar bills, and are you good at your job?
– There’s the dog walking and I do a cleaning job as well, it’s easy just cleaning. I’ve been caught out a few times though. I’m used to being by myself and forget other people walk past; one time I was emptying out a plastic bin, and when I was walking back I put it over my head and pretended to be Solid Snake off Metal Gear Solid. This guy saw me and I pretended I didn’t see him, (laughs). I teach kids how to swim as well, that’s boss. I want to do that more than the cleaning. I did it when I was younger and it’s just funny getting kids to do the doggy paddle with their tongues sticking out.

Like a dog?
– It’s a good technique, you’ve got to adopt the nature of the stroke, which is the doggy paddle and dogs own that stroke, just pretend you’re a dog and you’ll have it down.

What career would you ideally like to get into you adorable hippy?
– I’ve been doing conservation work and I’d definitely like to do more of that. It’s ideally what I want to do, along with skateboarding. I’ve done water vole and bat surveys where you go out looking for signs of them. With the water voles, it basically involves going out looking for little bits of poo along the water streams and occasionally coming across their burrows. You have to stick your arm in to your elbow to confirm it’s not something else. They’ve been massively decreasing because of farming pesticides, humans encroaching on their land, habitat loss and fragmentation, they can’t really connect anymore, there used to be so many of them. I did that in Scotland, trekking up the hills, it was boss up there man. With the bat one you sit in a deck chair with a little bat detector that gives off static for echo location calls, so you’d wait for sounds then look up and write down what time it was and what type of bat it was. That was for a proper company so I got paid for that as well, yippeeeee!

Would you say your skateboarding career is going better than your music career with the Kooks/ Razorlite?
– (Laughs), my music career’s just about to start man, since I’ve moved in with Garry. He’s got a mandolin or a lute; I’m not sure which. He needs to serenade somebody with it really. He’s got a banjo as well; I definitely want to learn duelling banjos.

House band is it? Who’d play what?
– Jah Cruise would play bass obviously, Garry would just go around playing everything at once, wizardry one-man band, and I guess I’d hide in the corner and play the triangle or something.

When all round diamond geezah Tom Brown offered to wash your clothes for you, did it influence you to up your hygiene? Also how often do you wash a load?
– He ripped on my grey hoody sleeves didn’t he? I definitely won’t get a grey hoody again, they get filthy too quickly man. I’ve got a lot better at washing recently though, it depends how often the washing machine’s available which is surprisingly rare. I can’t really be arsed, I’d prefer to go out and do something really.

(Reece) When we lived at Dennistead last year didn’t you only do three washes for the entire year?
– Yeah but they were big washes man (laughs). I’ve got quite a few clothes, so each one lasts a week.

Come to think of it, how often do you wash yourself, or is that a job for the rain?
– I’m a lot better these days, the first few years living in Leeds I was pretty grim, I was living the lifestyle of the dog I suppose, it’s probably why they’re so interested in me. They’ll be like, “f*cking hell this guy smells good” in their sense. My dog will be sniffing a bush and I’ll go over to see what she’s found and she’ll be smelling a piece of shit. I mean that must smell really good to them. Giving off the smell, it’s a natural thing

(Reece) Are you scared using shampoo will ruin your doggy coat?
– (Laughs), I hate washing my hair, I look like a complete prick afterwards, it balloons out.

(Reece) Jonathon Creeking it?
– Yeah, the portraits Reece shot of me for this, I’d just washed my hair and it was a bad hair day man… I can’t believe we’re talking about my f*cking hair (laughs).

Is that why you made one bottle of shampoo last over 2 years? Is that your personal record for least amount of soap dispersed over a period of time?
– Well we moved to 59, there were 7 of us and it was the first communal bathroom in Leeds that I lived in, and it just got rinsed, Josh Rose shaking water absolutely everywhere taking man sized portions of shampoo, (laughs).

Big, downhill and about as grim as it gets – backside flip on a Saturday afternoon for the 60 Villa massive.

Let’s discuss some of the bizarre situations you’ve gotten into on booze influenced evenings, starting with the Sidewalk ‘In Progress’ premiere. What the hell happened there and how did you make it back to mine the next day with no money and little geographical knowledge of where I lived?
– That was an interesting night to be honest; I got pretty pissed (laughs). We started drinking on the coach from Leeds to Liverpool, then went to yours in the Wirral, kept drinking, drank some Cains the local beer. Drank that on the way to the prem. We watched the vid, still drinking and got free beer tokens for afterwards. If you get a free beer you can’t not drink it can you? I remember getting to the stage where I thought I shouldn’t really drink anymore I was pretty smashed, then I found a beer token in my pocket, so I had to use it, went and got the beer, after that black (laughs). I remember seeing pictures of that massive bottle of wine outside, I have no memory of that but there’s photo’s of me drinking from it. Apparently I blacked out in the cubicle of the toilets, someone like Rye found me but I don’t remember any of this. I went for a little wander about Liverpool; it’s a nice city, that’s where my first memory of the night kicked in, just wandering about. I’d lost my wallet, lost my phone and had a bit of baccy and king skins, nothing else. I went into a few Travelodge’s to try and blag a night, and I definitely remember people coming up to me to tell that I couldn’t sleep where I was trying to sleep. I kept ambling and walked past a skate spot you pointed out earlier giving me a weird déjà vu. Got to the train station about 6 and got the first train to the Wirral, it goes a bit hazy again there, before waking up in Birkenhead about 10, where some guy woke me up. I got on another train, found your house and your dad answered and looked pretty confused. I got to a bed and it was fresh white sheets and I was pretty messy so I star fished on top of them. Liverpool’s a good vibe though. The other time I was there Pad’s birthday.

Oh yeah we were both smashed passed out on/ around the bunk beds.
– I was on the floor passed out and woke up with a fur coat on (laughing). Everyone was covered in chocolate fondue. I was licking that off on the coach home, (laughs).

On the same subject, what possessed you to sleep in a randomer’s car on chilling hill after that party where the Sheff heads came up?
– (Laughing), first of all I was locked out and I’d had quite a few stubs, I remember there being glass everywhere in the street actually. Anyway, I got into this little habit when I was pissed walking home, (my parents are going to hate this), doing cheeky little checks on cars, if they were locked I’d walk on and if it was open I’d just get in and sit there for a bit, (laughs). Well anyway in this scenario I was walking away from the party and had a calling to this car on chilling hill, the first one I tried and it was unlocked. I was smashed at 4 in the morning on the weekend. I had to meet the landlord at 10 the next day to get the keys so I thought I‘d kip there for a few hours. I set my alarm for 6, missed that, and woke up about 11 surrounded by Take That cd’s getting a call from the landlord.

When you moved to Leeds, Reece seemed to be one of the first lads you started hanging round with, if you want to dish any dirt on this party animal now’s your chance!
– He’s got the drift hasn’t he, that fringe drifting in. He’d chat to all these people who all knew him and he wouldn’t have a clue who they were, (laughs).

(Reece) I remember one time I was getting with some girl at the Fav, then went out for a drink and a cigarette, came back and you were pulling her (laughs)…
– She came onto me man! I was definitely just standing there, (laughs).

Does it freak you out that Reece has a perfect portrait photo of you in Milton Keynes years before you started hanging out? I heard he was grooming you into a modern skate Jesus.
– (Laughs), what photo’s that? Am I in the background or something?

(Reece) Nah in the foreground at the Battle of the Buszy, there’s some kid sitting in the background cross legged looking at you like you’re Jesus…
– I had no idea man, (laughs).

Killing off yet another modern day Leeds favourite, Foz front board pop outs like it was literally f*ck all, (which it most definitely is not). Check the still…

Do you feel that Reece persistently taking snaps of your insane stunts over the years has helped you progress your skating?
– He was one of the first dudes I met who was into photography, so we’d always go out taking skate photos. He’d always ask me to do the trick again, I could see him training up, (laughs). We’d take it in turns filming each other as well.

Any good out and about happenings whilst you’ve been shooting with Reece, or filming in general?
– Some moshers gave me some beer when I was skating tech 10: they were so hyped.

The feeble 180 you shot for the contents of this mag?
– Yeah that time, the moshers loved it man and they were classic moshers!

You must get on with all the moshers.
– Not all the moshers, some mosher’s are too mosher to even get on with.

You get on alright with the Hyde crusties though don’t you?
– I pretty much get on with everyone at Hyde, even the scally BMX kids.

Who are some of your favourite Hyde locals?
– Del pretty much took me under his wing, told me what was cracking. Brucie’s like the lord of Hyde Park; he keeps an eye on everybody and owns the mini ramp. Sangy as well, I saw him kick out this guy on a unicycle once, (laughs).

Excluding yourself, what’s some of the gnarliest skateboarding moves you’ve witnessed in Leeds, and who should the world look out for?
– Grove ollieing the rail at Headingley church then riding into the road tops-off was pretty insane. Just all the stuff all the boys do that I go skating with really. Rozee’s channel gap at the whippies in the Uni was insane as well!

You currently live in one of the jah-est houses I’ve ever been in, how have you all survived without the house going up in green, gold and red flames and has it improved your doggy dreads?
– ‘Kin ‘ell that’s a mad question, (laughs). It is pretty jah, dub first thing in the morning with the bass vibrating me out of bed. I do like my peace and quiet first thing, there’s a time and a place for loud music. That’s probably the country in me speaking.

You’re also a part time Mario Kart extraordinaire, which character do you most relate to and why?
– Well you can make your own character now; there are a couple of guys with dreads driving about. Probably Diddy Kong, but when you’re picking your characters the popular one’s go quick, so you have to act fast. Because of this I sometimes go for Luigi. He’s a bit of an outcast; nobody really likes Luigi.

Outside of the Nintendo, what’s the fastest car you’ve driven and who the hell let you do so?
– Got a sick birthday present one year. I drove a Lamborghini Gallardo round Silverstone. I did 5 laps on one of the short circuits and wore a racing helmet and everything. I’m pretty sure I started in third as well (laughs). The track was so wide so you could go faster. I reckon I was going 140, that thing f*cking went. “Wheeeeeee”.

Another beast previously only stepped to by Paul Silvester. This thing’s being crying out for a flip trick for years but it took Dog-boy to make it happen. Kickflip into nightmare brick weave.
Woof woof!

What’s lined up for the future Jimmy, are you intending on going on any trips, travelling wise or mentally?
– I need to get my ass back up to Scotland for some more survey conservation work, I wanted to go this year but I was doing the bat survey, which was also rad. I want to do some more of that shit.

Who currently supports your talent? I think you’re only a couple of sponsors away from an energy drink hook up (despite raiding the Hyde park red bull cars on the regs), but we all know you’d prefer a biere’ de’speciale stubbies package, I reckon they’d be keen!
– Yeah man about time, I’ve been drinking that stuff for ages. They’ve probably got better things to do like sit about and eat cheese, some of the finer things. I get Nike shoes and Kr3w clothing through Welcome skate store.
Welcome hook me up with everything really, Vince hooks me up with Sore boards. He was the one who hooked me up first, spotted me or whatever, (laughs), so it’s pretty sick!

Thank God you have those sponsors, you’re not the freshest guy but your threads create an illusion that you might be.
– Yeah man you can tell when I haven’t had a package in a while when I’m back to pockets hanging out, ass on show and all kinds of stains.

You still got those shredded to f*ck boxers?
– Yeah man may as well, I’m not going to be showing them things off anyway. They’re comfortable boxers as well, I hate getting to the end and having to decide between boxers that give you a wedgie or occasionally have your balls hang out. That’s why I keep them; they’re comfortable to skate in.

Who did you grow up skating with?
– The main dude I skated with when I was younger was Matt Green, he killed it: I still skate with Chris and Sam my stoner buddies, they’re sick, and Callum Sandercock as well!

Who do you like to go skating with in Leeds?
– I kind of like doing my own thing, everyone will pop into Hyde at some point, go down there, see what people are saying, go street if that’s what’s going on. A lot of the time I skate with Vince and Reece, Hyde locals. I’ll roll with the boys as well, but you guys have so much energy, (laughs).

Does that mean you’re getting a Rolling With The Boys (RWTB) tattoo then?
– My body is my shrine (laughs). Well I haven’t got any tattoo’s. I’d get some birds on my arm; some swifts, like them (points up at a flock of swift flying past). My local town’s Lutterworth and that’s the local animal. I was thinking of a fox as well, maybe because that’s a Leicester thing. 3rd tat could be a RWTB, but it looks like a prison tattoo. I could get with one joined up writing I guess.

Well everyone’s is different.
– So that’s allowed (laughs).

Ever dragged your arse across the carpet like a dog?
– We’ve had races before (laughs).

Don’t get it twisted: this spot is nowhere near as good as it looks. Buttery hards at Butterley.

Would you care to explain what a ‘burrito’ is?
– (Groany laugh), your mates will go out and get smashed and you’ll be at home in bed with shit to do in the morning. They’ll come in, wake you up, grab the mattress whilst you’re still on it, fold it over you then you’re just tucked up in the middle which isn’t so bad. I got used to getting burrito’d, it’d be quite cosy, but it escalated to the point where you’d get flipped over; I’d be on the hard wooden frame with a mattress on top of me, people jumping on me and generally causing a ruckus, so I’d have to rearrange the bed I had just made and try and get back to sleep. It was my final year of Uni when it was going off the most so often I’d be stressing about an exam the next day. Eeeeeeee!

Are all your recommended friends on Facebook still dogs?
– I think I added one or two famous dogs, I’ve got one on there at the moment called Trio, he f*cking owns it, I read his book.

Reece and I laugh…

Well not his book his owner wrote it. This dog went out to Afghanistan to sniff out bombs and the Taliban hated him and kept trying to kill him, but he just owned it! I’m pretty sure that was the year I constantly got fraped, it was like an initiation into moving into the house. My laptop had my password saved so you guys added a couple of dogs, and before you know it all my recommended friends were dogs so I was stoked! There’s this Staffordshire terrier I’ve got on it called Boom, you should check him out he’s a sick guy. There was all that bullshit about Staffies being dangerous dogs and this guy’s chilling, there’s photo’s of him chilling with bunnies and chicks on his head, getting on well with every animal. It’s a bad thing when I’m walking Sherlock, he looks like a Staffie and I’ve seen this hench scally guy from Woodhouse back up into a van, shit scared of him when he’s just having a little sniff (laughs). They’re the best breed for children, they’re loyal and it just goes to show that it’s not the breed of dog that’s the problem, it’s the owner.

The last 2 years or so you’ve gone particularly hard in da paint, what tricks have caused you the most stress to get?
– F*cking Parkinson building steps definitely, I used to go past it on the train all the time. I front boarded the rail that was a mission and couldn’t sit down for a week. I was trying to get a grind on it for a while and got it eventually, but it’s so weird gapping out to a rail against the wall. Every time I’d go past, it was like it was mocking me.

Yeah Paul Silvester’s the only other person to get a trick on it.
– Yeah years ago too! Now I go past it remem- bering the beef we used to have, but we’re kush now, it’s like ‘in your face!’ But I’m going back as well so it better watch it.

On the subject of Paul Silvester, what’s some of your favourite Man stunts?
– Switch back T on the L block and some of the gaps he’s done are just ridiculous, it’s like; how did he even get up there, let alone do the gap?

Are there any other OG Leeds heads you’re fond of?
– Tom Brown definitely, he’s so sound and has fakie 5-0’s for days. Rob Burn and Mark Bowcock are lads too! Watch Mark’s part on Dayzed and Confused.

Any last words/big ups/secrets you want to share?
– Big up the swift, the sparrows, Lipsy the weird cat with the weird lip, big up Dave who just mooned me. A big thanks to my mum, dad and brothers, all my friends from back home, the 51 boys, all the Leeds crew, all the Hyde locals past and present, Vince for the Sore wood, the Welcome lot for hooking us up, especially Tom Brown, Sidewalk for printing this, Vaughan at Krew and Colin at Nike for the proddy. Reece for taking pics, being patient and getting paid!! Flora and fauna and the earth, dog pals past and present, the beardy collie crew, the Midlands!! Hemplow hill, Sherlock, Ellie, Meg and Lucy, you for doing a chilled interview, Tina for taking us out of Leeds every now and then, the golden owls and Davina Harrap, ha ha ha. Lastly: party Doug rest in peace.

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