Love how an array of bonafide American Skate Video Classics™ can be presented in an entirely new light with some biographical seasoning from the U.K. And were your mentors really your mentors if they didn’t drag out a keg for you to learn tricks over? ;)
Read this one with “Running Up That Hill” playing in the background.
Guy Mariano – Girl: Mouse (1996)
Mouse was my first instance of watching a video and thinking: “I want to be like that.” I was 12, skating Southbank predominantly and Clive Daley was there the whole time alongside Toby Shuall. Clive was “the guy” doing tech ledge tricks.
There was a ledge by the Thames, next to the railings, so you couldn’t fit your whole nose or tail, but you could nollie into a crook and pretend you were in Mouse. It was a place to play around and it was good enough for me, as a kid, to try get into Mariano’s vibe.
The rhythm of him turning to and from switch, or doing a shove and then rotating his stance — that was so nice. It felt like he was almost dancing and I wanted to mimic that.
I think it was the first time you saw someone skating all different kinds of ledges too, in a way that was so willing to try new textures and not be strict about one specific type of ledge spot. He does so many crooked tricks and there’s so much style in them. I can see why somebody like A.V.E. would have loved in this too.
The pop shove to crook is so fucking good and there was a rawness to it. The sound, the spot, the control – popping from over the end of the ledge, catching it in that way and holding it for that long. It the showed the simplicity of being that skilled.
Jamie Thomas – Toy Machine: Welcome To Hell (1996)
I remember seeing Mouse and Welcome To Hell around the same time. Being a kid who was enthusiastic about being good at skating, I was quite conscious of wanting to become sponsored or get somewhere with it. Jamie Thomas’ part was so gnarly and I was so taken aback by this guy who I could feel his drive of persistence and self-torture.
I don’t want to be a bore with this kind of stuff, but people just see it nowadays, you know? Back then, you’d double take a back lip down a nine-stair handrail, whereas now it’s child’s play.
Anthony Pappalardo – Habitat: Mosaic (2003)
When you’re nineteen, you’re in the years where you dream and don’t have too many responsibilities other than school. I thought Pappalardo was so cool, especially when it came to putting spots together, skating gnarly spots at night with his hood up – he had a bit of a hunched posture and so did I. He was a bit of an outsider and looked like he’d be a bit miserable. That’s what I liked about him.
It was such an individual depiction of someone and the influence is something I can’t put into words. Mainly, it made me think I needed to be braver with finding spots and not get too comfortable when I’m filming. And to start really putting things together, like a song, in terms of “this would look good next to that” or “I want to skate this for that reason” — to build a part which also has a vision.
He was so much better than me and I thought there’s no way I could catch up. His skating felt unobtainable as well as magical.
I went on a trip with him once. It was to Malaga for Fully Flared with Danny Brady, Scott Johnson, Kelly Bird, Federico Vitetta and Bill Strobeck. He was super quiet and would do that cliche of disappearing while everyone’s skating a spot. You wouldn’t even know when he came back to the hotel later, but he’d have gone out and filmed something with Bill. I was on this trip with him, and I didn’t even know half the tricks he’d done.
I was so excited, like, “I’m with the big dogs.” That sort of thing. But then you’re with the big dogs who don’t even want to be around you. Scott Johnson was kind of different territory and doing his own shit, too. It was kind of inspiring, like, “Wow. We’re not one big friendly, family. We’re weird, individual tweakers.”
Heath Kirchart – Alien Workshop: Mind Field (2009)
He’s got a lot of mystery. He wears black and skates on his own at night. It all adds to this idea of this amazing loner. I love the self deprecating element.
It’s like Heath doesn’t skate for fun: parts are projects to do tricks in as if they’re pieces of art or he uses skateboarding as vehicle to exercise his demons. I can’t imagine him being, like, “Yeah, I’m going skating with my homies for a bit.” It’s just, “I want to lipslide this 20 stair handrail. I’ll either do it or I’ll fucking die.”
He’s on a mission. It’s not “fun” in a stereotypical way and I think I related to that: enjoying the challenge. It’s fun in a satisfying, “I’ve proved something to myself”-way. Tom Knox is like that. He loves thinking about ideas and documenting them. The satisfaction of filming a part feeds his drive and he’s always thinking about applying himself to video.
There’s something beautiful about how Heath approached his career. He’s untouchable, really. “I’ve done my bit, now I’m going to drive a motorcycle around the world.”
The way he rides out of lipslides – I’ve always been such a fan of the way his body looks when he does tricks. Years ago, I was thinking of making a video of Kirchart ride outs. Not even the trick, just an edit of his ride-outs to some sort of emotional music.
Obviously, Morrissey’s a bit of prick nowadays but “Speedway” is next level and I think that was the best pairing for a self-deprecating, amazing human being who skates in a way that no one else does. I love The Smiths and Morrissey; it’s a shame what he’s become with his political views. It annoys me when people are such role models to you and then they change like that. It’s sad. The song, I love it – it’s powerful, man. I can’t really explain it.
In a sense, Heath Kirchart is like the Morrissey that I wanted to carry on.
Lucien Clarke – Palace: Palasonic (2017)
[Part begins at 31:00 mark.]
This has such a similar feeling to Mariano in Mouse for me and, because I was skating at Victoria Benches, I saw Lucien learning how to skate.
Basically, Toby Shuall was a mentor to me growing up, as was Clive Daley, and they schooled me in terms of what they thought was cool. Pop was super important, so they’d be like, “Come on,” and drag a keg out to do tricks over. Victoria Benches were super high, and they weren’t far from Southbank, so on my summer holidays, we’d do these little trips to the spot and back.
Seeing Toby skate them was really inspiring and once I could get up there for a 5050, it was quite a liberating and fun place to skate. It felt cool to be skating these high ledges – which made us think Parliament Square was cool too. We were into high ledges, I guess, and it was part of our style, somehow.
I remember the first time I saw Lucien at Viccy Benches. He was super nice, but to be honest, it feels like I didn’t even get to see him skate there that much. There’s a bit of a blank and then this part comes out, edited to Toby’s song from Headcleaner [“Innerspace” by The Apples In Stereo], which is a nice nod to the history of it all.
The shit Lucien was doing was mind blowing because it had been capped for so long. He went and knocked them off, and he’d been filming this part incognito for a while. I happened to be at the spot one day and Mike Fox was like, “Why don’t you do something too?” That cameo line [in Lucien’s Palasonic part] is actually quite embarrassing. But it was the spur of the moment and I didn’t exactly know what the “project” was.
Then the rest of the part is just gnarly, innit? Everything is popped so high and clean and that probably comes out of that world of Victoria Benches. I also like that Lucien probably doesn’t meet the filmer until 4 in the afternoon, and then just fucking kills it. That’s a bit of a myth to me and part of what’s so cool about skating: there are so many different types of people out there, and no one formula of “how” to do it.
Previously: Tony Hawk, Naquan Rollings, Jack O’Grady, Josh Wilson, Maité Steenhoudt, Jahmir Brown, Una Farrar, Chris Jones, Mason Silva, Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams