From Sidewalk 198 - March 2013
When you cut your teeth on the streets of the Northwest, the saying ‘less is more’ is pretty much a guideline for existence – especially when it comes to words, skateboarding output, and, more often than not, money. From where I’m sitting, Vaughan Jones appears to be a natural at producing just the right amount of all three.
It’s rare you’ll catch him deep in conversation about the latest clip he’s rinsed on HellaClips, (to be honest, I’m not even sure he owns anything through which he can access the internet - apart from possibly his beyond hand-me-down first generation iPhone...). If you type his name into YouTube you’ll be greeted with next to f*ck all in terms of footage, and he has what can only be described as ‘a gift’ for making the smallest amount of money stretch the furthest length possible.
Vaughan’s approach to skating is visibly influenced by the rugged heritage that his native Merseyside has created, as you’re about to find out over the pages that follow. Making something out of nothing comes as a second nature to him, and finding an interesting or awkward line is of much greater importance than one-upping the next person’s achievements or meticulously counting stairs in desperate hope of hash-tag hero points. Under the watchful eye of David Mackey and the Lost Art rabble, Vaughan is growing up to become one of the most exciting street skaters out there right now, with the coming months hopefully seeing both Vaughan and his skating getting the recognition they undoubtedly deserve.
Interview by Ryan Gray
Introduce yourself please.
-Introduce myself...right (laughs). My full name is Lawrence Vaughan Jones, I’m 20 years old, I live in Leeds currently but I’m from the Wirral, which is not Liverpool but it’s in the Merseyside.
Is it really important that you state from the offset you’re not actually from Liverpool?
-Yeah. Nobody from Liverpool would let me say I’m from Liverpool because I’m from the Wirral.
Are you allowed to skate with people from Liverpool, or do you have to stick to your territory?
- Yeah, that’s alright. I do own the streets of Liverpool though (laughs). Nah, it’s all good, I just can’t say that I’m from Liverpool.
Is being from the Wirral better?
-I don’t know. I like it.
Are you more likely to get beaten up skating in Liverpool or the Wirral?
- Liverpool. Where I’m from is pretty nice but there are sketchy areas in the Wirral, like Birkenhead, which is crackhead central, but apart from that the Wirral is fairly good. Obviously there are sketchy places in Liverpool; all you need to do is walk outside of the city center and you’ll find out (laughs).
Are you happy about the fact that you’re going to have to talk about yourself for a while?
- Not at all, it’s not good. I’m regretting agreeing to this now.
Unusually we can’t shut you up; you’re known around here as Vaughan ‘The Mouthpiece’ Jones because of your ability to talk constantly...
- (Laughs) I don’t even know why you gave me that nickname, but yeah, I don’t like talking about myself. That’s all I’m gunna say.
Is it true you’ve got your own Facebook Fan Page?
-Yeah. And there’s an iTunes part dropping soon (laughs). Reece Leung’s got a few tricks in it and it costs £5.95.
£5.95? You better be stepping it up for that price.
-Yeah, and I’ll even skate to your house and sync it to your iPod for you.
So how did you find yourself living in Leeds?
-At first there were a few reasons. Guy (Jones – Vaughan’s brother) lived here for a few years before I moved here and I’d always visit him to go skating and I thought it was pretty rad, a good place to live. He never lived far from all the spots so it was sick to go street skating all day.
A load of my mates and my girlfriend at the time were all moving to Leeds so I thought I’d get on it and moved down here as well. There’s no other reason - everyone thinks I’m going to Uni but I’m not really; I’m just living my lifestyle (laughs), going street skating and rolling with the boys (laughs). I had to get that in there.
So is Leeds life better than life in the Wirral then, generally speaking?
-Yeah. In the Wirral it’s hard to find spots. There are a few kind of good ones right near my house but you can’t skate them all the time. To find really good spots in the Wirral you have to travel about, which is hard. Street skating in Leeds can get a little hard at times too but living near the spots makes it easier. Back home to skate really you need to get the train over to Liverpool, which is a half hour journey every time.
"Merseyside natives know that quirky cellar doors just don’t cut it if you’re looking for an unconventional ride out.You know what you need? Cobbles. Lots of cobbles. And tiny wheels; I’ve heard they help.Committed noseblunt slide from the ledge to the bank."
Am I right in thinking you were you born in the Wirral?
-Yeah. Well, I was born in Birkenhead technically, then I lived in Thingwall for my first five years, which is where Mackey is living now, then I moved to a place called Meols, which is kind of like a small seaside village kind of place. Like Southport I guess, but much smaller.
What did you do to pass the time before you started skating? Were you into sports, music, terrorising your neighbours or anything?
-I was really into football for the early part of my life, doing Sunday League all the time – I played for The Hillsborough Hornets (laughs). We weren’t a very good team but I got really into it. I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything but I thought I was pretty good (laughs). I started skating halfway through that phase then skating just kind of took over in the end. I quit Sunday League and had to write a letter to my manager.
-Yeah my parents made me. I told them that I wanted to quit football because I didn’t like it any more, and they were like, “right, you have to write a letter to your manager because he’s been so loyal to you over the years". I didn’t really want to but I had to. It wasn’t anything serious but I’ve got quite a few trophies at home; the best one is probably ‘Most Man of the Matches in the League’ or something; they used to total all that shit up.
Have you still got them all on display back at home?
-They’re all on the computer desk at home, in the shit-hole that is my room, which is a big, massive mess of stuff from over the years that I’ve never got ridden of, crammed into one tiny room.
Were you ever in the sports pages of The Wirral Globe for your Sunday League achievements?
-Nah; I wish I was but I never made it.
Reece: What was your signature celebration when you scored?
-(Laughing) Try to act cool, or sometimes I’d just leg it. If it was a cup game and you had to get on with it I’d pick up the ball from the net and run back to the centre circle...and point at my ma and da (laughs).
Your parents are...artists?
What sort of areas do they specialise in?
-My dad’s an anesthetist, so he deals with pain relief and giving people anesthetic for surgery, and my mum’s an eye specialist. It’s pretty cool. I guess growing up with skating, if I got hurt and thought I’d done something bad they’d be nonchalant about, like, “you’ve done nothing, it’s fine". I remember trying to manual on my street early on, I slipped out and hit my head and had a massive egg on it where I’d bumped it. Everyone was really worried but my parents were like, “nah, you’ll fine"; they know.
What kind of age were you when you started getting into skating then? I’m guessing you were quite young?
-I was around 9. From an early age I’d always had fishtail boards but I didn’t take it seriously. I bought one of those tiny boards once, the ones that are the size of your palm; I tried skating that and got into it from there.
My next door neighbor Ed got a set up first, then I got a set up and taught Guy how to ollie, then he got into it. Ed is the son of Chris Boardman, the famous cyclist I’ll have you know (laughs). He’s a good lad is Chris; he’s always commentating for the BBC.
That would have been 11 years, so 2002. I’ve been a mosher ever since...
Oh yeah, I remember having a conversation with you about your mosher past.
-I was a mosher for like a year, yeah. I’d listen to Limp Bizkit and Nirvana; I was really into Kurt Cobain for a bit. I bought a flame shirt and had chains round my jeans, but that only lasted for about a year then I got into Jimi Hendrix.
Reece: Who was the biggest mosher – you or Guy?
-Definitely me I reckon. Guy was really into Offspring, like really into Offspring and Green Day and all that shit.We didn’t last long as moshers, (laughs). I remember some family friends got it into their heads that we were moshers and Guy kept getting cheesy beanies with Korn on them and shit. They still turn up all these years later with Slipknot beanies for him (laughs).
Who was your favourite mosher band?
-I’d have to say Nirvana. They are classed as a mosher band but I still like them now. Moshers are really into them.
Reece: Not Slipknot?
-Nah, and I wasn’t into Slipknot when I was a mosher either. I was into some kind of gay shit though, like Limp Bizkit are pretty gay. I still put some of their songs on now for a laugh, like ‘Break Stuff’ – f*ck yeah, whack it on (laughs)! I did used to rock a backwards New Era when I was really young to be like Fred Durst as well. I paid £20 for those hats, man. I bought two just to be like him. I lost one of them in a youth club though. Gutted.
Stepping away from moshing for a second, who was the Wirral crew you’d be going out with when you first start skating?
-At first it was me and Guy, our next-door neighbor Ed, then a few doors down my mate Chris started skating as well, so we’d just skate on our street, skate the flatground and stuff. Then we’d just meet people from our surrounding areas, other skaters who lived a few minutes away. For such a small place with no spots we had a pretty tight crew.
How long was it before you started venturing over to Liverpool?
-I was probably about 12 or 13. I remember there was a lot of beef between Guy and me because Guy wasn’t allowed to go skating in Liverpool until he was 14, but they let me go when I was 12 (laughs). He really hated that.
Why was that? Were you deemed as being more responsible?
-I don’t know, I guess my parents realised it wasn’t that much of a big deal. I skated Liverpool a couple of times but I had to go with my dad. Laurie and I would be skating around, and my dad would sit about reading the newspaper (laughs). It was kind of weird but that was the only way I could skate Liverpool, and then he started letting me go by myself.
Laurie: How about when you used to sneak off to other places and say you were still in Liverpool?
-There were loads of times when I did that. My dad let me go to Liverpool but because I hung around with people who were older they’d always want to venture out to other places. There was one time I wasn’t even allowed to Liverpool so I said I was off to this place nearby in the Wirral, and I ended up going to Manchester. I was ringing them up like, “yeah, yeah, I’m still in the Wirral..." just to reassure them.
I remember Guy finding a photo on my phone of me in Manchester and he grassed me in to my parents, he was asking to see train tickets in my pockets and I was like “I’ve got no train tickets"; I had to flush them down the toilet. I was so secretive, all because I wanted to skate Manchester.
After a while I think my parents realised I wasn’t getting beaten up or getting up to no good so they were fine with it.
Would you say there was ever any brotherly rivalry between you and Guy when it came to skating?
-Nah. It was never a competition to show who was the best, we’d just skate together, but there was that stage where I was allowed to go to Liverpool and he wasn’t, and that pissed him off. He wouldn’t let me hang around with him and his crew for a bit, but that was only for a short time. Growing up skating with Guy was sick; every day I knew I had someone to skate with. Even if it was raining we’d skate our sofas, do nosestalls on the arm rests and stuff.
What? In your house?
-In the front room: If it was raining and we were desperate, and if our parents weren’t around, we’d skate our front room.
I’m sure Dr Jones wouldn’t be too happy about that.
-Of course he wasn’t (laughs), but it was at the time when those couches were ripped anyway so he didn’t notice any difference. But yeah, it was good to skate with Guy. There was a time when he stopped skating with me and he got into different things, but after that he got back on it and has been killing it ever since. I love his way of skating, he’s just super fast and doesn’t give a f*ck. He’s definitely the better Jones brother. In every way...(laughs)...
Growing up as a kid skating in Liverpool were you aware from an early age of guys like Geoff and Howard?
-Yeah of course I was. Obviously I looked up to all of those guys but I looked up to the people I skated with in Liverpool more. Those guys were a good inspiration as a young kid thinking, “this guy’s from Liverpool and he’s on the Tony Hawk game", which is f*cking sick, but the guys I was skating with in Liverpool gave me more inspiration because I was seeing it first hand. People like Mackey back in the day, seeing him in East ‘Vapors’, that shit was really inspirational.
Mackey’s the man, the boss; he’s the staple of the Liverpool scene. Without Mackey the Liverpool scene wouldn’t be anything, he’s really holding it down for everyone, hooks everyone up and Lost Art is the most legit skateshop in the country...in Europe. It won an award; Mackey’s doing everything right! He’s the f*cking man.
Did you lurk much in Lost Art when you were a kid?
-Yeah, for sure. I remember the first time I went to Lost Art when it was in Quiggins – this big shopping centre where everything was all arty and creative; it was a perfect hangout for moshers, basically (laughs).
So you fitted right in?
-Yeah, exactly. I got my first Nirvana hoody from there (laughs). But yeah, me and Guy went in there when we were really young, and we knew who Mackey was through reading Document and seeing him about, we went up to him and asked him to sign us a plastic bag or something. Mackey says he still remembers it, which is quite sick. We used to lurk in there all the time, watch skate videos and go skating afterwards, or if it was raining we’d still go through to town and hang out.
When did you start getting flowed gear from Lost Art?
-I think I was 16. I remember going into the shop and Mackey handing me a bag with a Blueprint board and a load of Lost Art shirts in it. That was the way of saying I was officially riding for Lost Art, and on shop flow for Blueprint. I was so hyped on that!
When you got on Lost Art, who were the main guys in Liverpool? Was Ash Brown still about?
-By the time I got on Lost Art properly Ash was getting less coverage, but he was definitely one of the best. He had the best style, could do any trick easily and was such a nice guy as well.
When did Tom Tanner and Geff appear? Was that round about the same time that you started traveling through to Liverpool?
-Yeah. I skated with them from an early age, maybe since I was 15.
We filmed a video called ‘Got Rad?’ (Laughs). Like ‘have you got rad?’ (laughs). It was a total rip off of this Australian thing called ‘Get Rad’, but there were full parts from me, Tom, Geff, Cory, Guy, my mate Joe...there were loads of parts but it was a really sick video. A lot of people have kind of died down in the Liverpool scene since then, but Tom and Geff have kept it strong. I’m always stoked to go skating with them; they’ve both been killing it for so long.
How long has it been since you moved to Leeds then?
-About a year and a half. Laurie and my mate Finlay got a house sorted and we just moved down.
Did you never think to get a job or enroll in Uni once you’d finished school?
-I went to sixth form and did a year there. I was planning on doing three subjects but I could only do two because one of the subjects clashed with another one, so I only ended up doing Media and IT. I did the Media exam and got a D, but I didn’t even do the IT exam because I got mumps, but everyone in my year got a U, which was the grade I got without even sitting it.
They offered me the chance to repeat the first year but I was over the school and it was only my mates that were keeping me there, so I decided against it and tried to seek employment.
I did work in Lost Art for six months or so, which was the best job in the world. I couldn’t think of a better job to have – chilling out, talking about skating, looking at mags, watching videos; it’s pretty much what I do anyway but getting paid for it. And you have to set up a few boards too.
Since I moved to Leeds though I’ve managed to live on the dole and claim housing benefits. I got a job very temporarily as a door-to-door charity fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Didn’t you do door-to-door sales for some movie rentals service as well?
-Nah I had two interviews for that, and I definitely could have got that job. I was shadowing two other guys going door-to-door trying to sell Love Film to people, and on the second interview I could have got the job, they were trying to convince me to do it but I was like, “no, I am not doing that, that is ridiculous". With the Macmillan job at least the money was going to charity and you know you’re doing something good, but selling Love Film would just be soul destroying (laughs).
So you mentioned earlier you were getting Blueprint boards for a while. What was the deal there?
-I got Blueprint boards for a good few years; it was nothing serious but I got boards every now and then, which suited me. When I moved to Leeds I was still getting boards but they were coming from Mackey; when he’d get his boards from Blueprint he’d hook me up.
You also had a flow deal from Fabric for a while too, right? -
-Yeah. I think you and Mackey sorted that out, and Baines as well. That was only for a few months; it was good getting boards sent to my house, but I didn’t feel like I contributed very much to them. I had a bit of footage with you that you showed them, but after that I didn’t do much else really. Then I left...
Why was that?
-To skate for a company called Dimension Skateboards (laughs). Nah, I got offered to ride for The National Skateboard Co. I thought it would be better for me because I’m in constant contact with the people involved in it. With Mackey being on the team and skating with Tom Harrison and Manhead all the time, I just thought that it was a good move. I’m hyped on everything they’re putting out; I’m hyped on the team, I’m just super stoked on it.
What have you been up to over the last few months? I guess it’s been productive considering that it’s winter...
-I’ve been trying to skate as much as possible, but there was a lot of hibernating over December and January, but the months before that I was trying to skate and film as much as possible. Trying to shoot photos with Reece but he’s only concerned with shooting with the pros. So he can get the big money (laughs).
And now the interview is almost done, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
-To skate as much as I can, take every opportunity I can, travel around as much as I can, enter all the competitions I can and get a Monster sponsorship. Enter Street League and X-Games, rub shoulders with Ryan Sheckler (laughs) and be the first person to get both a Monster sponsorship and a Red Bull sponsorship. Nah, just take every opportunity I can mainly.
Who would you like to thank?
-Firstly I’d like to thank my parents Mari and Andy for all the support over the years, and my brother Guy for being a top bloke! All my family and all my mates, the list would be too long if I was to list all of them, but they should know who they are.
Dave Mackey for hooking everything up and being the man! Big shout out to Lost Art and all the employees past and present. Shout out to the National boys and to everyone who I’ve skated with.
Peace and love – RWTB.