In defence of the early grab - a few of the best
After last week's Twilight Zone Footage Feast - which focused on various creative types taking unusual approaches to skateboarding - the standard 're-up lines' format with a single skater focus wasn't going to work. Instead we decided to follow on from this with a look at how, in the right hands, a basic and slightly looked down upon trick (the early grab) can become a thing of utter radness!
It seems at the moment that many of the staples of 80's skateboarding are making a resurgence - no complies are a flatground staple once again and no ramp jam is complete without at least a few kids chucking themselves into backside bonelesses. However whilst these tricks are being given a new lease of life, grabbing early remains consigned to the scrap heap - much maligned outside of a few choice circles. I personally believe that the over-eager aerial has got an unfair rap - it's always fun and in the right hands can look fucking ace. Whether tweaking it out or taking it to something gnarly, here are a few examples to bring out when your friends start taking the piss out of the early grab.
Above photo courtesy of Chromeballincident
Sam 'SPT' Taylor - Earth Pain 666
Starting off with a banger, here's Sam Taylor chucking the lesser seen stalefish backside 360 grab down Southbank's heavily rinsed seven set. Earth Pain has been seemingly dormant as of late, but they always put out the raddest edits - bringing the hype to drink as much as to skate. This is worth watching for the set up alone, contorting his body as he winds up to chuck himself down the stairs at a highly unnatural angle. His legs still look to be winding as he surfs out a roll away from one of by far the best tricks I've seen at the recently saved spot.
Kevin Rodriguez - Trocadéro Days (Polar)
Kevin Rodriguez is one of those skaters with a flair for creativity and a bag of tricks taken from every era. The Trocadéro Days edit has all the elements of a good watch - grab a talented group of skaters, take them around a city (Paris) with a couple of jump ramps and watch the fun unfold - and this melon grabbed wallride from kicker to bus stop is a great steezed out variation.
Chet Childress - Blackout (Black Label)
This one definitely falls in the gnar category! Looking back over his sections shows clearly that Childress is an early grab fan, whether it be down stairs or, as shown here, off of a roof into a backyard bowl like a boss.
Richie Jackson - Squadrophenia (Death Skateboards)
For me and I'm sure for most of the UK, Death Skateboards' Squadrophenia was the first glimpse of the phenomenon that is Richie Jackson. This was before the twirling 'tash and hippie jump preoccupation, and while his eye for a unique trick is still very much in evidence there is more of a lean towards stair hammers here than in later sections. This switch cannonball early grab follows on from a regular frontside 180 cannonball grab down the same stairs earlier in the section; both of which are savage on flat, let alone being flailed into the abyss!
Jump Ramp Section - The Search For Animal Chin (Bones Brigade)
Back when early grabbing was the norm, this jump ramp session in The Search for Animal Chin set the standard of what was possible despite only lasting for about 45 seconds. The Jesse Martinez opener and Tommy Guerrero ender both show a mastery of the pre-grab that not many have possessed before or since.
Jesse Martinez - Streetstyle in Tempe run
Talking of The Mess, here are a couple of runs from a 1986 contest. The frontside 360 mute grab is banging, as is all of the footage in this clip - I know somewhere out there footage exists of a contest where he pulls out an early grab backside 360 on flat, but can't for the life of me remember where. Anyway, recognise an underrated great.
Eric Koston - Early Bird Berrics section
This one is just to show how much fun you can have pissing about with early grabs, Koston doing whatever he goddamn wants!
Darrell Stanton - This is my Element (Element)
Two good 'uns in a row here. A dogshite soundtrack and overt religious messages in the first spot's background aside, Stanton displays a true natural talent on his board here without being afraid to do things a little differently. Although claims that he invented the 'tetherball' (early grab cannonball) are unverified he definitely has a good handle on it, here taking it first for a 360 down a grass gap and then 180 degrees down a more sizeable set.
Lukas Miller - Pleasuredome (Just Nipples)
Lukas Miller takes the early grab and runs with it in this section - the line down three stair sets gets props for the variations and for how fucking wild it looks, but the whole section has some killer skating from Miller, Nolan Johnson and a crew of dudes down for footplants, streetplant variations and transition weirdness.
Zarosh - Death Skateboards Better Than Life
As he has proved many times over, Zarosh's knees are not held by the same constraints as normal human beings. Here he takes the early grab to a dusty abandoned highway, where a wall/bank/curb gap combination offers him the chance to power a grab out of the bank, over the curb and off of a drop double the size of him.
Derek Tracy - Happy Medium 2
Derek Tracy's ender from Happy Medium 2 is stupidly gnarly, treading the fine line between ridiculous and amazing - barely any tail lift, it just looks like he's going as fast as possible and holding on for dear life. Check the back foot upon roll away, millimeters from death!!
Kyle Frederick - 12 O'Clock Karl
One of the raddest, most creative parts to appear online in the last couple of months courtesy of Kyle Frederick - awkward spots requiring quick feet, ditches, handrails and a couple of choice grabs thrown in for good measure. Here we see that rarest of creatures, the early grab to crooked grind.
Early Grab Will at Stockwell
I'm not one to pass up the opportunity to post up some Stockwell footage and this definitely fits the article's theme - 540 early grab out of the sausage to flat. Fly like a bird!
Chris Van Dijk - Kingpin's The Scene: Rotterdam (2014)
Kingpin's 'The Scene' edits, focusing on a specific city and its shred-sledding inhabitants, are all very much worth your time hunting down and watching before a skate - I can guarantee inspiration won't be long in the making. Their Rotterdam edit was probably my personal favourite of the bunch and the intro is closed nicely by Chris Van Dijk chucking himself at a hubba ledge via an early grab frontside 5-0 fakie and an early grab front blunt. Check the madness here then seek out the other edits, they're all killer!
John Cardiel - Antihero '98 (Antihero Skateboards)
Cardiel reps the early grab with mind blowing levels of savageness to close this article. This legendary footage of him and Gonz at the Carwash drop will give you vicarious adrenalin sweats, especially if you know what to expect at the end of the clip...