Chris Oliver 'Cover Stories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell Ayumi Powell

From sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

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Chris Oliver
Sidewalk issue 87 : December 2003
Cover photo: Hors

 

 

So Chris, this cover’s from Issue 87, December 2003 – what was going on in your life at that point?
- Everything and nothing, depends what generation’s looking at it, (laughing). Probably not what I was thinking then, I’m just trying to come in all deep on the first bar just to keep people reading, I’ll be here all page.
It was all a dream, I used to read Sidewalk Magazine, used to hang out on bridges and throw bricks at limousines. Now you’re listening when it’s poetry, must be true. What else was happening? I suppose dealing with the all the demons from years of hair fascism, gingers never have an easy start, and I guess mainly just trying to find a truck sponsor because mine were running out fast, (laughs), like I’d find these rails and they’d just keep ending too soon, I basically wanted to just grind forever. Not much has changed except now I just want to boardslide forever, plus if you’re looking forward you get a better view of life. DO MORE BOARDSLIDES.

That 5050 is one the gnarliest rails that I’ve personally ever seen anybody do: The run up was about 4000 years old, the rail was probably a good few hundred years old itself and the run out was literally into the sea. What the hell possessed you to try it?
- (Laughing), well when you put it like that it sounds even radder. I was on holiday for a start, that’s when you’re supposed to get crazy, right? Two weeks of the year and that. I just remember having tunnel vision on grinding that beast, it was begging for it. It was either that, gnarly downhills or piles of rubble. I was even looking in bins for anything to sort the run up out, it was too perfect to leave, I think the run up ended up being half a door and some cardboard for a lipper. It just about worked.

How does it feel to know that you are definitely the only person who will ever skate that spot? I mean, I seriously cannot see anybody else either ever finding it, or wanting to try anything else on it…
- Stoked, it’s reassuring to know that somewhere in deepest Italy is a 100ft piece of bent pipe that I now own. Rad.

That entire Clown trip was pretty mad – Pompeii and rural Italy aren’t exactly high on the list of filming hotspots these days – what do you remember about that trip?
- I think I remembered it all when I got home due to the nightly alcohol abuse that went on. I don’t think I’ve ever drunk that much since that trip, ha. HOT BUBBLING MUD stands out, (as Mount Vesuvius was described by the Scouser bird on the tour coach).
I remember rolling off a big decrepit petrol station dome roof in a last ditched attempt to get some coverage – the spots were that bad. It was sort of the Third World version of a Megaramp (but with no pads) with a mud run out, but the speed I was going I could pretty much hover, so there you go, if you go fast enough you can actually hover. Oh and Mattias Nylen – purely for human interest.

You’ve had a grip of different sponsors over the years but for whatever reason – you never really seemed to get the recognition you deserved, despite clearly having the skills – do you ever feel like you got stitched up a bit?
- Well the last skateboard I bought with cash was in 1998, and I’ve only ever paid for two holidays out of about 50 up to now and didn’t work for years – so I don’t know where this theory comes because it’s not from my head.
It’s funny what people would do if they were you: everyone seems to be experts at running other people’s lives but have no clue about their own. What ever the ride I was on it was a good ride, I just might not have been tall enough for some of ‘em, but do I remember the coffee and candyfloss being quite nice. To end up a sponsored skater from no matter who it was I felt thankful regardless, I›ve never craved recognition and never got why people want it so bad. The most recognised people in today’s world are also the most ridiculed, but in their heads they’re flying so I’m confused.
As long as the people that matter to me recognise me, then that’s cool, like my mum and people who I’ve met and who are cool, then that’s good enough for me.

What was your first photo in a skate mag and which is your favourite photo of yourself?
- I think the first one was flipping Lloyds when I was 16 looking like a newborn chimp, but a ginger one, so I was naturally abandoned and skating found me. Some of my favourites have always been the little ones, not in a weird way: I remember the vert ad I had at Radlands, just because it brings back the memory of Sean Goff shouting at me to drop in and nearly wetting myself in the process. To any bystanders that could’ve looked a bit weird, luckily it was Radlands so everyone was pretty much injecting weed into their eyes soIjusthadtogetonwithit.

What would be your Sidewalk favourite cover from over the years?
- Harry Lintell’s cover with that 5050 in Sheffield was up there, and I ain’t just saying that because he’s on my team. You can always rely on Wainwright’s purely for shapes…I don’t know, too many bangers. Karim’s shove-it one is epic too, Rory’s SB back smith just ‘cause I was there on execution, twas a greasy affair. Morph’s house cover was definitely up there too, justa shame he’s not in it. Ali Boulala’s wins for now though with the Flume Ride. EPIC FUN.

You’ve been a regular on the contest scene both here and Europe for years – do you enjoy that whole vibe?
- Nah not really backing all those free holidays, hotels, parties, hanging out with mates, and possibly walking away with some free rent money: probably some of the worst memories, but I still go to em? I’ve never really worked it out. I’m not one to judge but I don’t mind being judged because that’d be judgemental, judge away.

 

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What’s your perspective on the way skate contests have evolved? Do you watch Street League and all that?
- No but I was thinking to get a permanent iPad fixed in the bog with a constant feed to Street League just to remind me how poo it is. (Laughing). Even though saying that I did get picked to do an audition edit at the DC Embassy to go to Street League, but I was under the impression that if you get through you get paid regardless of whether you enter, and probably more than I’d ever got at any comp: just gotta turn up and just happen to lose your board, or just go and buy a hammer and smash your own shins in the car park instead of killing yourself for the sofa riddin. The only upside is to get to skate the Embassy on my own, much fun.
They actually look like they’re having a nightmare most of the time. I’m all about the commentary which sometimes can quite often be better than the skating, depending how high you are: Nyjah did a backtail biggy out down some huge double set hubba, landed so steez but then the judges were like ‘bit sloppy on the landing by Nyjah’? It was perfect! How do you want him to land it? Completely straight-legged with a hand up? It ain’t ballet. Well, maybe it is now actually…
Basically, now it’s a battle of who can look the most bored and ungrateful to even be there but all still really going in for the gold. (Laughing)… It’s all bloody good skating whatever way you look at it.

You’ve had a few nasty injuries over the years – which was the worst and what have you learned from all that time spent on the injury bench?
- Well I think the big one was when my knee decided to commit suicide on me when I was quite happy living: all for a caveman down a skatepark rail in Oz, right at the start of the holiday, hyped! In fact, I still have the mental image of my knee 4inches over to the left, which ain’t that normal. So that was a good year out of the game, and it is a game if the game was Operation, which luckily I had help with from sponsors at the time which meant not waiting for 6 months to then be out for 12. That was a blessing. They could have just dropped me and made it easier for everyone. Stoked on life. What did I learn in that time? Probably the art of relaxation, and it is an art.

If I were to ask you to tell me the 5 most influential skaters in your own life, who would you select and why?
- Mmm, hard one, they come and go these days so I’ll keep it early years for me, as that’s easier.

1. Well for starters the beast that is Greg Nowik for up-ending every miniramp trick ever done in front of my very eyes – he was a massive influence.

2. Wayne Kelly too again ramp killa like I never seen before at that time. He used to come to Bridport and destroy our ramps and women.

3. Julien Molyneux just because he’d be offended if he wasn’t in my list, he claims he taught me every I know. Maybe he did, I don’t know, I just remember being so hyped on his energy and passion for skating.

4. Mark Channer was again just so ahead of his time for UK, smashed it, always hyped me out watching his shit, and wins the nicest guy award.

5. Dave Chesson for pure aggression up in the session is always quite refreshin.

6. Andy Scott just because. I know you said 5 but he’s a just a bonus to UK skateboarding and the fact that he’s on my team and it’ll creep him out reading this. I know there are more heads to mention but no ones gonna care as much as me as it’s my list.

Seems like you’ve finally found a home on a good UK company now with Superdead – how did that come about and what’s in the pipeline for this year?
- Yeah I’m hyped on it for sure, feels rad to be part of a UK company. The last UK company I rode for was Clown way back when, so it feels rad to be part of a team that don’t all live in America or Spain like the Blind and Alai deal. As hyped as I was on that deal it felt quite distant as a team vibe you know? Now I’m on a team with a right bunch of tards, just like it should be, (laughing). Yeah loving it, been out filming for the coming video whenever it may drop, just a good old fashion sense of purpose.
Also being on the same team as Scotty has just swept me off my feet: that guy is just so radical at everything and I really hope he enjoys reading this without feeling awkward. I really like your eggplants.

Are you able to imagine a life without skateboarding?
- Don’t have to imagine these days, I’ve been out breaking bread with the peasants mush, chippy ain’t I? I’m mainly partly part-timing here and there now and again just randomly getting jobs where I can you know, good honest cash. Djing’s been a bonus here and there too, I do spend probably more time making tunes through the night than I do skateboarding it feels, but it’s at night so it’s sort of off duty in a way…
I think life just naturally becomes more apparent with age to the real world and your place in it as a hobbling old skateboarder. We are the elders: life will lead us.

What’s the pinnacle moment of UK skateboarding in your opinion and why?
- The birth of Ben Grove maybe: For just raising the pain threshold to previously unknown levels, and his ollie in Newquay, that guy’s just so damn PINNACLE.
Secondly when Parlour Skate Store opened. And thirdly what else is there apart from Superdead?

How do you see skateboarding evolving from this point?
- Full circle like everything, skateboarding leads and the world will follow. Where do you want it to go? I think I’m just going to slow right down and wait for it to catch me up for a change, (laughs).
The Internet’s gotta be the next to go, it’s getting ridiculous. VHS is on the prow and its in CAPITALS AARGGHH. But I did just watched Jake Brown do a 720 with no hands for about 100ft, and his mum was watching, so who knows where we’re going? When you watch it, it’s like he’s ollied into a black hole. Where’s he taking us?

Have we exhausted the possibilities yet?
- Not while Greg Nowik’s alive.

Give us the benefit of your wisdom Chris… Why is skateboarding worth it?
- Still rendering.

 

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Ollie. Photo: Sam

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