Howard Cooke 'Cover Stories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

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Howard Cooke
Sidewalk issue 17 : June 1997
Cover photo: Wig

 

 

So Howard this cover is from issue 17 – June 97 – at that point Edge Lane was still vaguely skateable right? It had the pump bump and the metal quarter as well as the tarmac relic next to it – how often did that thing get skated?
- Yeah it was for sure still skateable. Before the pump bump there was an Eddie the Eagle wedge ramp – you’d roll down, hit the pump bump, which would slow you down, and then it was all down hill, so to speak. At the time of that pic I don’t think it was being skated a whole lot, but I could be wrong.

Lance Mountain and Cardiel both had photos/footage on there too, right?
- Well apparently Lance Mountain was over on a family holiday and he did an invert or something on it but I never saw any photos. Just after this cover came out I remember hearing that the Hellride crew had been through there. I can vaguely remember talking to Cardiel at G97 and him saying they all had to do a grind on it. I remember walking into the Deluxe store in SF and seeing the Cardiel backside disaster pic blown up on the wall, (it was an Anti Hero ad) and just thinking ‘what the f*ck?’ insane. Geoff ollied the fence in the bowl into the steep as f*ck bank too in his 411 checkout, which is pretty gnarly. You’d have done well to roll up and do a bert, never mind ollie the fence!

Did people really choose to go and skate there for “fun”? Ever seen anybody fall over the back of it?
- I hadn’t been there for years and years and one day we had a minibus of people early morning all headed, if I remember rightly, to the last Broadmarsh banks session in Nottingham before it got twatted. Andy Lord was driving, saying that should we stop and skate, half jokingly with half the people in the back giving it the ‘f*ck off’ and half the people saying ‘f*cking stop’: that was definitely fun, everyone trying to get some at silly o’clock.
Rumour has it that Colin tried a handplant once, missed and went straight over the back, straight down to a broken shoulder. I can imagine.

Do you have any idea of when the quarterpipe was built? Or what else was there originally?
- All I know is that it was an old 70’s skatepark, built on the corner of Edge Lane and Rathbone Road, so it was originally called ‘Rathbone Park’ I think. It had swings and a footy cage, a mini with a roll in bit, and a midi that was the same with no rollout decks like the quarter. It apparently had a vert ramp that was the same too at one point but it got taken down because it was too dangerous: oh, and some weird snake thing up down and over X ten whoopdedoo.

When was the first time you skated it, what’s the best thing you saw go down there?
- I remember as a kid about 12 we’d get the ferry to town, then jump on the 42 bus up there, skate for hours and then skate all the way back to town. I imagine at that point you’d get Dan-z, Dave Davies and Pete Rogers skating there a lot. I did see our Adam do a rock and roll on it once; that was sick.

Liverpool’s scene at this point was rock solid – you travelled as a group constantly, the entire city was virtually bust-free and nobody, others than meffs and bagheads, cared about skating.Is that how you remember it?
- At that time yeah, it was boss. You had a bunch of kids that would just skate everyday all day. Everyone was into different things, different styles of skating, total freaks but it didn’t matter. Town was as you say, bust free, you could skate anywhere really, no one gave a f*ck. We were all of an age where we could travel easier then too so we’d just go somewhere new every weekend. I remember getting on a train to go to Cornwall for a week; we’d stay in a rain shelter on Clodgy Hill, getting on the train with Brian Sumner and Joel – no sleeping bags just boards. Joel having 7 quid for the week, and he’d spent it by the time we got there, too daft.

Is the story about the Rob Selley photo on the Flea Pit dart- board true?
- (Laughing), that rings a bell deffo.

So were you already on Consolidated at this point?
- Nah I think I just got boards off the Flea pit at that point. When Nick started Power up he asked me to ride for them, so that was all down to Nick really, what a beast. Nick and me went over, went to Con, stayed with Bailey and he took us about. I’d just turned 21 at the time, it was a sick trip: I got on the flight home with chicken pox and probably gave it to the whole plane, (laughing).

So at this point you were part of the straight edge crew from Liverpool – what happened there and who’s left?
- Well a lot of us didn’t drink and we’d skate all day and go and watch punk and hardcore bands in the Planet or whatever at night, good times. Out of the skate kids who were around at that point there’s probably Ad and Foxy left, the rest got thirsty.

 

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You went out and lived in the States for a while around this time too didn’t you? Where were you and how was it?
- I’d just go out there for 3 months at a time, come back for a few weeks and go out there again. I’d mostly go and stay with Scott and Jed and Johnny Roughneck; there were times when there’d be 30 odd people all crashed out on the floor so it was more like a flophouse or an orphanage. SF’s probably my favourite city, I went back recently but it seems to have changed a bit: doesn’t everywhere? I’d also go and stay with the Reid in Philly on the way out.

Did you not fancy doing the whole US visa thing and all that?
- To be honest, it just never cropped up. My wife got a 3-year visa and we had a place in SF but to her it was just work, work, work, so she hated it. I could live anywhere to be honest. I always think people say ‘f*ck this place I want to live somewhere else’, but each place you live just becomes the same old thing; you need to learn to be comfortable in your own bones first then it doesn’t matter where you are.

Are you still in touch with anyone from that era?
- I still keep in contact with Scott quite a bit, I meant to go and see Birdo and Leticia when I was over there but it eluded me.

You’ve travelled all over the world through skateboarding – which destinations were the best/funniest?
- The first trip to Marseille stands out, 30-hour coach ride from Liverpool, me, Ad, Ade, Nick: no place to stay, no money, scorching hot. Madrid with pretty much all the LBP, Woodley included and Fos coming along; he must have thought ‘what the f*ck am I doing here?’ In fact every trip with James was pretty f*cking funny.

What’s your favourite Sidewalk cover from over the years?
- The one that comes to mind is the Brian Sumner Echo Buildings rail one, the switch 180 5-0.

One of my favourite of your parts is from the Lord video ‘Hell on Wheels’ – what do you remember about the process of that video?
- I remember that there was no process at all, it would be everyone just skating and Nick would sometimes get the video camera out. I can’t remember really thinking there was gonna be a video or owt.

You’re back in Merseyside now with a kid – are you still building sets for a living?
- Yeah back here, in Wallasey, just over the river from Liverpool. I’ve got a 7-month old boy, Ernest; I build sets mostly for theatre and whatnot.

How involved were you in the New Bird build? Is that where you tend to skate these days?
- When that started out I was living in London so I mostly helped at random points when I was back. It was mainly Ade, Ad, Frost, Russ and Spoons. I skate there as often as I can.

So you still have a board on Heroin but given that you’re a dad with a full time job I can’t imagine that you’ve had time to film a video part – are you going to have any footage on Video Nasty?
- God, I hope I don’t.

Is Man still The Bastard?
- Man is the bastard.

Your body has taken a right beating over the years – how are you holding up physically?
- Fine really.

Can you imagine a life without skateboarding?
- Yes.

LxBxP?
- Israel in July?

Anything else you want to say Howard?
- Nope.

 

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Backside disaster. Photo – Leo

 

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Sidewalk Magazine issue 206.