Joe Howard ‘First Light’ interview from Sidewalk 198

From Sidewalk 198- March 2013


Joe Howard is one loyal geezer, to skateboarding, to his friends, to his missus. I first met him at Ramp City in Blackpool, I remember seeing photos of him somewhere before doing a frontside smith grind with a beer in his hand. But when I saw him skate in real life I couldn’t believe it, the guy never falls off, Texas plants, sweepers and smith grinds as long as your dad’s rape charge list, it’s unbelievable. He’s the only person in England I’ve ever seen do proper boosted fakie thrusters, none of that small step in bullshit, he’s like a mini Duane Peters, but northern. Whenever we skate he’ll always have at least two new tricks, he never stops progressing.

It’s so rad to have a friend who’s willing to travel down from Leeds to London nearly every weekend just so we can skate and get drunk. I couldn’t say how many scraps and drunken situations we’ve got into. When we were in Copenhagen last summer we didn’t have anywhere to stay and not enough money for a hostel, so we slept at the Christiania bowl for the week. One night this drunken Eskimo-looking bloke came in and tried kicking us out and he had a gun. Well, I didn’t see it, but Joe swore to me he had one on his belt. It was either that or the fact Joe had been smoking his tits off every night we were there, you never know with Danish hash.

Whether we’re skateboarding, getting pissed, going to see a band or beating up art fags in Camberwell because they talked shit on Thrasher, I know Joe will always be there with the crew on the front line. He is one of a kind. He’s one of us.

Photography by Paul Graham
Intro & questions by Jake Snelling


So Joe when did you first start skateboarding?
– First start? F*ck! I don’t know, I can’t remember a single thing since I started skating I’m beating my banger just trying to guess. Right, I have just dug out my first magazine I bought: it’s a 2005 issue of The Skateboard Mag with Peter Hewitt carving a full pipe. His face is all sideways from the gravity pulling the chimp like denim fellow back round on the cover and has skate and destroy pasted all over it. So I’m guessing around then, 8 or so years ago. The first time I picked up a skateboard was from a boot fair in my local town. It cost about 2 quid and came equipped with fluorescent rails and the graphic was all messed up. It must have been vegetating in some grandma’s garden since 1986! Real goofy looking, it didn’t work right well but I mean as your old man says ‘a good workman never blames his tools’ right? So I learnt to ride the thing, balance and stuff, using it to go to town and to the shop mostly then eventually saved up enough paper boy money and got myself the real deal, it’s been on ever since.

Tell us about the Leeds scene when you were younger, do you have any good memories that stand out?
– I hated Leeds for a long time. I mean I never liked the city anyway there’s just f*ck all there except Hyde Park and a dogshit football team! For me it’s just a wannabe northern London full of toffees. When I do venture there it’s a bus ride from the small town I live in, about an hours ride away, then a walk up to Hyde Park – probably the biggest park around at the time when I first started skating. If I do go over there it’s usually to see Rozee’s curiosities museum, I used to love hanging out round his house with Sam Barrett, Ian Blackburn and Jordan Kaye. We’d drink beers, watch Consolidated and Anti-Hero videos, and if I was lucky ‘On the Prowl’ or ‘Risk it.’ There was always a good old sharing of L.B.P stories from Uncle Roz, which always got me hyped, and also the occasional traipse to Needleside if the veins were feeling it.

You were a Ripped local for a while weren’t you?
– The Ripped skatepark was my second home for a good few years. You can only ever dream when you’re a kid about how skateparks could be and this was for real. Having literally no rules and always a floor to sleep on made skateboarding so comfortable growing up there. We’d skate and smoke all night from when the park shut till early opening hours, sometimes having sketchy open invite parties until the drugged up kooks from the nightclub opposite kept appearing through the door freaking out. Who worked here? Anyone, that’s what kinda place it was, very similar or maybe the British equivalent to the Christiania bowl in Copenhagen! It had a real tight-knit family feel, how skateboarding really should be, but obviously with it being run like this came its bad reputation and a not very long existence. Mostly I remember the sound of Mad Snoz slashing the crete with steel toecap boots on, with his head busted open from a beer can catapult.

I’m so f**king glad that Joe is wearing clothing whilst thrusting this fasplant fakie in my eye. Photo: Graham

What do you think of skating in London, with the Roadkill crew?
– I love being around you guys, the very chosen few friends I skate with and want to hang with; 100% skateboarders. Everyone else seems to have something stuck up their arse. The London scene, I think it’s f*cking tough and has got so much energy. The kids go big down there! Skating Stockwell a lot, you’ll lose your voice screaming at hammers going down every 5 minutes.

What are your plans for 2013?

– I just want to skateboard with my friends, add some tinnies in the sun, cushty! This winter has been a tough one, I’m gonna be 21 this summer so this shit is on. Heading over to Barcelona in a few weeks Roadkillin, then out to Bilbao early June with some Leeds boys, which will hopefully put a tan on these pasty white legs. I’m looking forward to sleeping in warm countries on the dirt, waking up to a new park every morning.
Can’t think of anything better, come at me. Also hopefully try to make it over to CPH pro this year, I have travelled to Copenhagen twice before but have never hit that event up, it looks hella fun. I really want to make it out to the states next year, I’m going to work hard all winter and sew my pockets up, so yeah hopefully travel as much as I can and work in between. If anyone’s got any space in their automobiles for a northerner this summer gimme a shout, let’s go skate. 100% Roadkill.



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