Oliver Birch Interview + Evz & Will ‘Beef Stew’ Section
What’s the story behind the name of your video Olly, ‘Beef Stew‘ is a reference to where the name ‘Scouse’ comes from, right?
Yeah, so we have a thing in Liverpool we are quite proud of, our national dish almost, (laughs). Scouse is basically just a beef stew but you’re right, that’s the meaning behind it. The video was very nearly called ‘Ferry’ but we all know what that sounds like. It was Luke Fletcher who can up with the name ‘Beef Stew’ as far as I remember.
I’ve personally witnessed a bunch of arguments amongst you lot regarding who is or isn’t a proper Scouser on numerous occasions – what’s the Scouse to Wool ratio in the video?
There are a lot of Wools (AKA a ‘Woolyback’ – someone who lives close to but outside of Liverpool) in the video to be honest but it’s just a laugh, we are all mates really. That said – there’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t come from Liverpool claiming Scouser. I heard it a lot at Uni but that shit got shut down quickly! All the Wools in the video are sound though so they get a pass: they actually spent more time skating in Liverpool than my crew of mates when we were younger ironically.
Liverpool’s notorious for the lack of skate video output for a scene with as much history and as many good skaters as the city has – is that part of what inspired you to make Beef Stew?
Yes and no: I have always seen scene videos pop up on the Internet from places I’d never heard of like ‘Biggelswaitshireton’ or some place in the arse end of nowhere but not much from Liverpool, even though the stuff that has come from here was rad, so I’ve always wanted to contribute to that. I think the main reason for making the video were as follows:
1. I’m pretty shit at skating, so I ended up being the one with the camera trying to film my mates and,
2. After a while I had plenty of footage and thought fuck it, why not go the whole nine yards?
I’ve always wanted something to hold in my hand too like; “boss, I helped make that”… You know what I mean? Having a premiere in the shop was amazing as well and almost justified the effort on its own. There was so many more people there, way more than I expected, and plenty of people have reached out and bought a DVD as well so big love to all of you – it means a lot!
Does this mean that Beef Stew is the second ever Liverpool scene video? ‘Kenobheads’ is the only other one, right?
There have been a few other bits that have come from Liverpool.
‘Got Rad’ was a scene video with the likes of Guy and Vaughan Jones, Tom Tanner and their crew AKA “the townies”. There was also a video called ‘Farmyards’ that came out before Got Rad; Ash Brown and a few of the lads I just mentioned had stuff in that one. But aside from those and the one you mentioned that’s about it really.
Did we ever arrive at an answer as to why that is the case? There must have been other people filming in town right? Where did all the footage go?
I’m really not sure whether there was ever anyone filming regularly in Liverpool to be honest. I can only really speak for the time I’ve been about, which isn’t long, but it never felt like filming was really a part of our scene as such. There was a shop VX that used to live in Lost Art and there was shop video in the works for years but all that footage got old and ended up coming out as promos for the Lost Art video which never materialised. Liverpool to me as a scene has always felt a bit more ‘underground’, for want of a better word. The vibe I’ve always got from the guys who are older than me was that they didn’t give a fuck about it, they just were out there killing it and if someone was filming then someone was filming. I’ve spoken to Kev Banks recently though and he’s unearthed some proper gold he filmed years ago so hopefully that surfaces in some form soon!
You’ve been filming for a long while, especially with your brother Charlie, but this is the first video you’ve put out – did you enjoy doing it or not? Which aspects did you like/dislike and why?
I did enjoy it, definitely! Filming has always been my way of being part of the session or the scene in general, it’s the way I first got introduced to the Lost Art crew, because I was filming Charlie and my mates and we would show Mackey and then I became mates with the lads from the shop and then I’d end up filming them too. The thing to say about filming something like this is that it takes time and when the people you are filming with are at an age where in the space of six months they can look completely different and skate differently, it’s hard to represent them properly. For example, I have two minutes worth of footage of my brother Charlie that I just couldn’t use because he was too small and the stuff he was doing wasn’t as good as the new stuff he filmed.
Also losing all the footage half way through making Beef Stew was an absolute piss take, I was lucky I kept all the tapes but it took a long time to go through them all again. Back you footage up kids!
Making a skate video is definitely a lot of stress too, because it’s my mates. I wanted to make something they all liked and even just picking music with that in mind is so difficult, but in the end they were all into it and that’s all I wanted really.
Since making Beef Stew you’ve become a postman I believe, what happened to the Maths degree?
I did that for a bit but I’m back working in Lost Art now! I actually started off doing Medical Physics at Uni but I wasn’t into the essay writing because I’m dyslexic, so I swapped over to do straight Mathematics, but it was so dry and I hated being there so I would spend most of my time in the skate shop just teaching myself at home instead. Then when Mackey offered me a job in Lost Art I was like ‘fuck it’.
So yeah, after Lost Art shut for a little while I got a job as a postman, that was pretty fun but the novelty wears off after a while so I’m glad I’m back at the shop now!
Did the lifestyle of working for the Post Office lend itself to you still being able to go out filming?
While I was there yeah, it was great. I only worked three days a week so I had four days off to do whatever I wanted so it helped to finally finish this video off. I’m lucky now that I only actually work in the shop two days a week and the other three are for office work or going filming or whatever I need to do. I couldn’t ask for a better situation to be honest.
I would definitely like to make another full-length video in the future but for now I think I’m going to work on some smaller projects.
It seems as if at least half of the people featured in Beef Stew have ended up moving elsewhere since – who’s left and where have they gone, and who’s left in Liverpool?
Yeah, a lot of people have moved to London the last few years but I suppose the likes of the Jones brothers were in Leeds for a long time before that. Guy, Vaughan, Tom, Fred, Corey and most recently Charlie have all moved to London. But everyone comes back every now and again and most of them still lived outside of Liverpool while I was filming Beef Stew so the footage I got was from their visits back here, or stuff they sent to me. There’s still a good crew left here in Liverpool though – Luke, Will, Rauiri, Joe, Evz and all the rest of our mates.
Where does the Liverpool skate scene stand now after that exodus of people to London? Is there a new generation of kids on the come up?
The scene is good I’d say, the older guys are still about, the likes of Howard, Adam, Russ and then there’s us. There is a younger crew coming up too, one of those guys, Nick, just started as the new Saturday lad in the shop. There’s also a little crew from Leeds who go to Uni here so we see them out skating all the time – Jake Mitchell and his boys.
It’s definitely still very healthy.
What’s your favourite bit of footage from Beef Stew and why?
That’s a hard one, I’d probably say Will Kynaston’s ollie up and then wallie up the big block at Black Blocks. That thing is high as fuck and there’s a big gap between the main bit of the block and the top bit. And he did it with a ciggie in his mouth: so cool bro (laughing).
What’s the most memorable skate-related memory you have from during the making of the video?
My memory is pretty shit so there’s not one specific thing; mainly just being out with the lads in the streets skating is belta. Everyone knows that feeling, I just got to film some shit on the way I suppose…
What’s going on with the Liverpool skate scene these days then?
As you know, the shop has moved to a new place above a bar and a pizza place, which is so sick, so we are all just hanging out up there having premieres and doing stuff. I’m in the middle of filming something new for Lost Art that I hope is going to be out soon too. I’ve put the VX up on the shelf right at the point where most people seem to be picking one up too, which is quite funny, so this will be my first foray into HD. Aside from that, just keep your eyes peeled, shit is cooking.
I’d like to give a big shout out to all the lads who are in Beef Stew – I love you all for that. Also, thanks for not fucking me up when I lost all the footage (not that you would be able to, gang of Wools). Thanks to Mackey, Padd and Mick for having my back at the shop. Big thanks to my girlfriend Jen for putting up with me always and to everyone who has bought a DVD so far, youse are all BOSS.
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