Gav Coughlan – 360 flip – Lloyds. Photo: Griff
A few more words with Dublin-based Birdhouse flow rider Gav Coughlan
You’re no stranger to big name tours Gav, having been on quite a few Volcom ones before – how was this Birdhouse trip in comparison to getting bossed around by Kev Parrott?
This trip was a bit different to the ones that I have been on before. We had a couple of set places that we had to do demos at, and then we were kinda free to do what we wanted in between, compared to being on a constant street mission to gather footage as on previous big tours I’ve been a part of. This was a little bit more laid back because of that, but I do miss having Kev telling me what to do!
I guess you’ve got enough tour miles under your belt not to get nervous like I’m sure Clev did. Plus you’re a bit of a show off when the pressure’s on which probably helps. Did you get freaked out by any of it or was it mellow?
I actually got a little freaked out with some of the bigger parks as they had a lot of big transition that I would like to try skate, but didn’t want to due to the amount of people watching, and the very real possibility of me falling on a slash grind. If anything, I think Clev didn’t even notice anything around him and was just throwing down! It pays to be ‘clever’ in that context, (laughing)…
Shawn Hale – seatbelt slide whilst Dange speed dials the Bookies. Photo: Griff
It seemed like you and Clev were accepted straight away and there was none of that ‘US dudes in the front/flow riders in the boot’ type of politics going on – was it as good natured as it looked?
Well, I had met Jaws a few years ago when he came to Ireland with Tony Hawk for the web summit and for them to visit a castle in Limerick that Tony ended up getting married at shortly after, so I kinda knew him a little bit. It was my first time meeting Clive, Shawn and Derek though but we all instantly got along. Everyone was on the same level. I don’t think Instagram could show how good-natured it was, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that it looked like we were having a sick time, which we did!
Who got the most attention from the kids? Are autographs still a thing? Or is it more “Yo you’re that dude that took a shit on KOTR – can I get a selfie?”
Jaws definitely got the most attention from kids. When we got to Lloyds, he wasn’t able to move due to the sheer amount of kids asking for photos and autographs. He handles it really well though and always has time for everyone, which was sick to see. Some kids actually wanted his used boxers and socks and got him to sign them which was pretty funny, well until they put them on their heads!
Any particular spots or places that you liked?
I’d never been skating in France, Belgium, Breda in the Netherlands or anywhere in Germany before, so that was pretty rad to get them all done in the one trip. It was sick to go to Le Dome and see the hubba and get a real feel for how gnarly anything is on that, especially Eniz’s front blunt, which is just nuts!
You grew up in the time before Insta and all that but are still definitely part of the online generation – were kids more interested in filming what was going on, or just physically watching would you say?
It was a bit of a mixture between the two. You know how it is these days, everyone needs to get a clip or 2 on their story just to prove that they were there. That’s just how it goes, if you didn’t post about it on the Internet, were you really there?
Which of the stops/demos were the best and why?
I reckon the best stop was Pier 15 skatepark in Breda. The skatepark was a bit more to my taste with a lot of rails and ledges and less on the 14ft transition side! But as good as that was, it was the after party there that really made it. I’m sure everyone has seen at least one video of Martin from Bonk Skateshop holding a speaker above his head and blasting everyone with the music. They also filled us with a healthy amount of booze, and when you’d ask for water, they’d just bring you more beer, (laughing). We were really well looked after there and thanks to Martin and everyone that works at that bar/skatepark for a really memorable experience.
Who was demo hero and what was the demo hero tactic?
Of course Jaws was the demo hero, but Shawn was a bit of a dark horse too. Jaws just has everything on lock and can perform on demand, almost always finding some way to hype everyone up too. Shawn could just bang out a fakie 360 shove blunt on anything within 3 tries and that’s a bit of a jaw drop to see on demand!
Not entirely sure what to call this but ‘360 tailblock transfer’ sounds shit, so we’ll go with Shawn’s name – Mr Hale ‘The Nap’, Brighton. Photo: Griff
Glass keeps telling me about how this trip was one of the best he’s ever been on – what’s your take on that?
Yeah this is definitely one of the best trips I’ve been on. Everyone got along really well and there wasn’t a dull moment. Someone always brought the hype. You’d think being stuck in a van for hours would suck, but we always made the most of it. I think every trip I go on in the future has a lot of live up to now!
What was the best trick that you got to witness during the whole thing?
We went to a pretty gnarly ditch in Cologne, where if you fell, you were falling into someone’s actual shit that had run down through it at some point. Clive managed to nollie into it somehow, and it was pretty insane to see him rolling into that steep, rough bank at mach 10.
Can you explain what ‘being sponsored’ means Gav, especially from your perspective of being an Irish skater sponsored by a UK-based distro – what does it require, what are the responsibilities and is it worth it? Do you think ‘being sponsored’ has made you a better skater?
Being sponsored from my perspective has made it possible for me to avoid buying anything skate-related (unless it was something dope I wanted myself) in the last 10 years.
It’s made it a lot easier to skate having a steady flow of fresh boards and shoes, instead of having to piece together scraps, which I think in turn has made me a better skater.
In terms of responsibilities – you might be required to go on some trips, or to some competitions to rep those people who give you product, which I would never say ‘no’ to, when someone’s offering to send me somewhere to go on play on a plank of wood.
I find doing those things can be a lot of fun and you meet a lot of different people.
There is no way I’d ever have gone on a trip like this without it, and I’m stoked to have Shiner and Birdhouse back me and give me these opportunities. I’m so grateful for everything that skateboarding and the community has given me and I’ve met a lot of really good friends thanks to it. Although there isn’t any actual money to made, having sponsorship allows me to use what money I do have for things I want, rather than needing to buy shoes, clothes, boards etc. Obviously I can’t do this forever, but I have to enjoy it and make the most of it while I can. Big thanks to Alan for organising such a sick trip, and to Clive, Aaron, Shawn, Derek, Clev and Mark Byrne for making some very good memories!
Gav – frontside noseslide the length – Shiner TF. Photo: Griff