Tom Penny ‘Cover Stories’ interview from Sidewalk 200

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013


Tom Penny
Sidewalk issue 01 : Sept/Oct 1995
Cover photo: Wig



This cover is from 1995, shot at Radlands in what was obviously a pivotal year for you Tom. What do you remember from that era?
-A lot of skateboarding: a lot of good friends – a lot of good times and mostly – a lot of good memories.

The old European contest circuit was a really important part of skating back in the mid-90’s – what are some of your favourite memories from those legendary road trips?
-It would always be the England contest first, then the German contest followed by Switzerland and the Czech ones. It was always fun to just be free and be travelling with your friends sharing new and exciting experiences.

You went from localising Radlands to frequenting the Huntington Beach park a lot once you moved to the States: what did you like so much about both places?
-I would go to Northampton every Wednesday on skate trips with my local skateshop crew from SS20. It was about an hour’s drive and I remember I would skate non-stop from the second I got there until closing. It was probably at the time the best skate park I’d ever been to and still one of my favorites to this day. The Huntington park was 5 minutes from where I was living and was not nearly as good as Northampton but equally fun in its own way.

It seemed that you befriended Chad Muska as soon as you moved to The States. How did the two of you originally meet and what do you remember about living with him?
-We met, had a smoke and instantly became friends: we lived together for a year or so in Newport and have continued to be best friends for about 20 years. The memories and the stories go on forever!

You’ve mentioned to me before that even though you get the credit for the frontside flip that it was actually Carl Shipman who should get the credit for making that trick popular – is that really the case? What memories do you have of skating with Carl and being influenced by him?
-Carl Shipman has always been one of my favorite English skateboarders, he has a good style and does his tricks prop- erly and always makes his skating look good.
I don’t remember the exact conversation I had with you but I think I was just trying to say that I wasn’t the only one doing good frontside flips back then. I did them good, Carl did them good, Jeremy Wray did them good: there were other people doing them, it wasn’t like I was the only one.

What was the first photo you ever had in a skate mag?
-I think it was a backside tailgrab one foot off a jump ramp for a subscribe ad in RAD mag.



What’s been your favourite photo of yourself that has been run over the years and why?
-Maybe the 540 indy on vert for an éS ad, not only because it was a good photo but also because I’d never done it before and I’ll probably never be able to do it again.

Flip moved out to the USA in the mid 90’s but Sorry didn’t come out until 2002 – what are your favourite videos that you appeared in before Sorry came out?
-Probably the Menikmati video: I don’t think I even filmed for it though. It was more like a collection of all the skating gathered from different filmers from the time I arrived in the States up until I left, but it’s still one of my favorites and one of the videos I get the most credits for up to this day.

The 411 Industry section that you were in has gone down as being legendary in the years since. There were always stories floating around that you fs flipped the Carlsbad gap the day before with no camera and also that the switch fs flip was second try – how much of that is true and what do you remember about filming for that with Wing Ko?
-I remember me, Rune and Andy were staying with Tony Hawk and I think he said something about there being a school down the street if we wanted to go skate. So we did and I kickflipped the gap and frontside flipped the gap first try and then switch frontside flipped it 3rd try. I think Rune might have kickflipped it too…
I remember when we were filming the downhill line when we were going round the corner after the switch 180 Wing Ko went flying into the bushes because we were going so fast. Those were fun times.

Flip used to do some crazy concept adverts back in the day – which of the early ones are your favourite and why?
-I liked the Oxford Don one myself. One that a lot of people haven’t seen or don’t remember was the one with the Flip team in the desert almost dead with Shorty’s Rosa on top of a dune in a blow up rubber oasis. That one was funny. Also the M.A.S.H. one with us all running through a swamp, that was funny too. I’m surprised we didn’t all die of deadly diseases after that one.

When did you last skate around Oxford?
-About ten years ago, when I went to visit my dad.

Which is your favourite Oxford spot and why?
-Little Clarendon Street was always my favorite when I lived in Oxford; I’d skate there every day, so there and also Dougy’s ramps.

What about your favourite spots to skate in the UK as a whole?
-Not only my favorite UK spot, but also one of my favorite spots worldwide has always been Southbank: around 96/97 I was there literally every day.

Which are your favourite skate videos to watch these days and why?
-I love the new DGK video, it’s one of my favorites: the skating, the music, the skits, the acting is all really good. It sort of reminds me of a West coast version of Kids, so that’s my favorite video right now.

It seems that Supra have been keeping you busy lately, with trips, tours, demos, etc. What have been some of the highlights of your recent travels?
-Both of the last two 2011/2012 tours have been really fun. From the first day of the first tour it seemed like everybody instantaneously got on really well and straight from the start it was like one big family. Supra in my opinion has one of the best teams in skateboard history and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Give us the benefit of your wisdom Tom – why is skateboarding worth it?
-For me personally, the fun, the freedom, the feeling, the traveling, the experiences, the adventures, the memories and all the cool people you meet along the way. Thank you skateboarding and thank you Sidewalk. Peace.


360 flip. Photo – Javier Araneda


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