From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013
Sidewalk issue 22 : December 1997
Cover photo: Wig
So then Paul, this was your first Sidewalk cover shot in the winter of 1997 – what was going on in your life when you went to shoot this infamous crooked grind?
- Yes it was a long time ago, I remember that it was an amazing time for skateboarding. Most of my time was just spent at Fairfield Halls in Croydon skating all day everyday. The spot was so alive with people visiting from all over to skate there, and every session there had something new going on. It is a shame that energy is unable to be as strong as it was due to the condition of the ground and ledges.
What’s the story behind the classic ice block photo then? It’s far from your standard cover – how did the idea come about and what do you remember from that particular day?
- It was the middle of winter and Wig had the idea to go out to this ice factory. I forget exactly where it was, but as it was the Christmas edition coming up he thought it would be a funny idea to skate an ice block. I had no idea what to think of it and just went along to see if we could do it. On arrival we just dropped the block down and started to skate it, doing crooked grinds, 50’s and back tailslides. Once we were ready we started shooting but it did not look very good so we decided to smash up another block of ice and put it in the foreground, and that is why it looks like it does. I remember we broke the shit out of the iceman’s expensive chisel. I was stoked on how it all came out.
This mag was released in the same month that the second Panic/Blueprint video ‘Anthems’ premiered – how was it filming for that specific video, and has the process of getting a part together changed much for you between then and now? If so, how?
- The footage for that video was filmed 90% of the time in Croydon or London, which made it way easier for me. It was before the time where we were traveling all over for filming. It was just much more simple to get a video part done then than it is today for many reasons. Less of a production than it seems to have become now. You filmed what you wanted and that was it – no re-do’s, no watching footage back, you just got on with it and moved onto the next thing.
You and Pritchard turned pro for Panic at roughly the same time – what are some of your best Pritchard related memories from those days? You must have witnessed some pretty ‘special’ incidents first hand…
- Pritchard just used to love getting naked everywhere he went. I guess not much has changed with him since those days too!
You were a regular face in San Francisco during the mid-90’s too – what was the scene like over there back then? Who would you say made up your regular crew, and what spots would you frequent?
- The scene was electric, there were so many skaters living in that city at the time and the spots were all incredible. It was the skate Mecca of the mid-90’s. The regular crew was Strubing, Kenny Reed, Cairo Foster, Seth Cheeks, Elias Bingham, Ewan Bowman, John Trippe and Satva Leung to name a few, and that list could keep going. We would skate Union Square, Black Rock, Wallenburg and just all around the streets of downtown. It was a crazy bust everywhere at the time, getting chased by cops on scrambler bikes; the police were relentless and had no time for skateboarders. ‘Frisco Dyke’ and ‘Terminator’ being the craziest of them all and the last ones you wanted to get caught by.
Is there any truth in the rumours that you were offered a pro board on Profile?
- I have never heard this rumour before. There was another company called Clean that I almost got on through Karl Watson. They wanted me to stay in S.F but my three months were over so I left. That turned out to be the best decision as everything started to work out for me in skateboarding when I returned to the UK.
You were one of only a handful of UK heads who managed to hold down sections for 411 too. What was it like gathering footage for 411 in those days, and, from a personal perspective, what one trick from your many 411 appearances stands out above the rest?
- We filmed the 411 Rookies profile part in less than two weeks; that was how is worked back then. I filmed it with John Trippe, who was filming the Fit video at the time. He was pretty busy with that which did not give us much time so we just made it happen; if you look back at the footage I have the same clothes on in most footage as a lot of it was also filmed in the same day. We just bowled around S.F getting it done. The kickflip 5050 (on Hubba Hideout) was my highlight as it was something I had wanted to do for a while but it seemed people’s favourite was the tre flip in a line I do and the one thing people most remember from it.
After the release of ‘Anthems’, the Blueprint and Panic teams merged to form one solid company – how and why did this consolidation happen?
- Blueprint had a way better aesthetic than Panic so we all decided that it made more sense for us all to put our focus into one brand rather than two.
You also rode for DC for a long time alongside Colin, Selley, etc – what are some of your favourite memories from the DC roadtrips/tours you went on?
- Just going on tour with that lot was incredible – Colin, Selley, Rattray etc were the best. We had some seriously suspicious gear on those tours though, bright yellow tees with our names on the back, shell bottoms…we looked like idiots but I am sure we thought we looked good. I do remember the time that Selley was winding up Leo Sharp in the van on the way to Mount Hawke and Leo just turned around and punched him in the face. Tense times in the van for sure but it turned out all good five minutes later.
In the early 2000’s you relocated to BCN with Kenny Reed during the city’s initial stretch as ‘the capital city of skateboarding’ whilst you were filming for Static 2. What was the vibe of the city like back then?
- It was dead at that time; tourism in any form had not really hit too strong and for skateboarding it was paradise. I can remember going to MACBA for the first time, there were no skaters, no tourists, and it had not really even been waxed which is hard to believe when you see it now. At the time most Barcelona locals skated at Sants it seemed. Those years were spent inviting people from all over the world to come stay at the house and we would just get messed up every night and explore the city every day. I am so stoked when I look back to that experience and I say to anyone that they should all go live and skate in another city for a part of their life.
With filming for Static 2 did it feel like you were having to ‘break America’ for the second time, so to speak?
- I never thought of it like that, Josh (Stewart) asked me to be a part of it and I was down. It was weird at first as I had always filmed with (Dan) Magee and knew where I stood with him, but it did not take too long for me and Josh to become good friends. I look back at that part now and it is my least favourite to watch, in regards to my skating. Josh did a great job on the video and a lot of people bring it up with me; just the other day in Brazil someone brought up my part. Josh put me out there in a different light to Blueprint that I really appreciate and I thank him for letting me be in a video with good people such as Oyola, Sabback and Reed.
You’ve lived literally all over the world – have you ever felt settled? Where would you class as your ‘home’?
- It has been quite a ride for sure but I am settled in L.A for the moment and I’m getting married to my lady out here in July. It took me a while to get used to it out here but now I have everything set up I could not be happier.
Have you any plans to live anywhere else, or are you happy splitting your time between LA and London?
- At this time I have no plans to live anywhere else, I am happy where I am.
Out of everything you’ve achieved over the years, what would you say has been the highlight of your skate career so far and why?
- Just being able to travel the world with my mates and skate all these incredible places to me is a highlight, and still is. Money was never as important to me as the experience I was getting, and if I got to do it all over again I would do it exactly the same.
What are you favourite Sidewalk covers from over the years?
- John Rattray’s fullpipe in Iceland – incredible cover and time.
Obviously you worked quite closely with Dan Magee during the 16 years you were involved with Panic and then later with Blueprint – what are some of your best/worst memories from dealing with Dan, and how close have you come to throttling him?
- The Blueprint years we worked together were incredible, what everyone was able to achieve was amazing. Of course with good friends you have your ups and downs but with Dan it was mostly up. I just learned to turn off my ears when he started going on one about something. He has probably been closer to throttling me than me to him. We all have some stories.
Blueprint as we know it fell apart towards the end of last year and you’ve come out strong alongside Nick Jensen with Isle Skateboards. What does the future hold for you guys? Have you any plans or projects you can tell us about, and are you happy with the way the early days of Isle have gone?
- At this time we are working on getting the first run of boards and tees out and making sure it all runs smoothly. I am trying to keep everything small to start with so that I am able to keep control of the whole situation. It can be too easy to get over confident and we want to make sure that everything we bring out is on point. Everyone involved in the team is working hard on getting clips for the upcoming Grey video that we will be co-sponsoring and after that we plan to work on a video ourselves. So far everything is going real good and I could not be happier; working with Chris (Aylen) and Nick has been a blessing and I look forward to everything we have planned.
Why does traditional skate culture matter in the age of Facebook and Hellaclips?
- I still believe that as a skateboarder you are so much more hyped on getting a photo/interview published in a magazine or a video part to come out on DVD than it just being web content, and this is why it is important; that is my opinion anyway. What is crazy now compared to some years ago is that you have to have something on everything to keep everyone happy. Skateboarding is a lot different to the time when I had this ice cover; that is for sure. All you did was film a part a year and get a photo in a magazine. Now it is update after update – Insta, Facebook, Vine, Twitter…and the list goes on and on. Long live the magazine.
And lastly Paul, can you imagine a life without skateboarding?