Mani and Johnny have been going out a lot recently and stacking photos. After going out to get some last minute clips I sat down at Mani’s with some homies and asked him about skateboarding today, growing up in Newcastle and upcoming projects.
Interview by Phil Steavenson, photos by Johnny Haynes.
No Comply Tailslide on some seriously venerable crust.
So, Mani introduce yourself. How old are you? Where are you from? How long have you been skating?
My name is Mani Haddon, I’m 19, from Newcastle and I’ve been skating around 10 years now.
Skating tranny seems to be a recent development for you. What made you convert to a full ATV?
(laughs) I don’t know, I’ve been skating street for so long now that I just hit a point with it. I just started skating more parks. I wanted to be able to skate everything really.
Why is it that you’ve always skated the crustiest spots on a board that resembles morning Weetabix?
You can’t escape the crust in Newcastle. Every spot is crusty so there isn’t much choice. I just want to skate so I’ll skate whatever I can get really.
How does skating in other cities compare to skating in Newcastle and what are your favourite places to hit?
Well, pretty much everywhere is better than Newcastle really (laughs). There’s just more spots in other places. Manchester stands out for sure. Liverpool and Leeds are also pretty good. Barnsley has a surprising amount of great spots too.
How do you think growing up skating in Newcastle is different to growing up in a bigger scene like London?
It’s definitely more tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone so you can just get out and skate with anyone. You learn to skate whatever you can and get more creative with how you hit the same spots. We skate spots most people probably would even consider being skateable (laughs).
How has the scene in Newcastle changed over the years and where is it at now?
Well in the days of Bishcam it seemed that the whole scene was one big crew, all being filmed by Bish. As I started skating town though people had already started splitting off into different crews. I live in Tynemouth so I got introduced to the scene through Dean Kiernan and the rest of the homies from the coast. Nowadays, it’s kind of gone back to being one crew with a few exceptions. Yeah there are different filmers around but everyone skates with everyone again now. It’s all about the good times (laughs).
Excellently poised Front Blunt in the corner at Whitley Bay.
In three words, describe winter in the North East.
Bridges, Bridges, Bridges.
Every time I see you skate a spot you seem to pull out something I’ve never seen you try before. Is this just a result of many a rainy day at 5 bridges.
Maybe that’s because you don’t live here anymore? (laughs) Yeah that’s just the crustiness of Newcastle for you. You’ve gotta adapt you know? We’ve got a lot of variety at least so you get the chance to skate a lot of different spots. Bridges definitely helps a lot with learning tricks though for sure.
In a world where everything is an ABD, how do you think skaters can still stand out?
It’s all about style now i guess. The way you do things seems to be more important that what you can do. That’s what stands out to me anyway.
What were your skate videos growing up?
The first video I ever got was ‘Real: Roll Forever’ from Native. Still owe Jacky the chucky from that one (laughs). Once you see that you can’t really go back. Mindfield and Baker 3 were also some favourites.
What are your opinions on the ‘Instagram first’ mentality and do you think this is the way skate projects are heading?
I’m not a massive fan of prioritising Instagram, but if it’s what people want to do then that’s chill. Instagram has so much content that it’s easy to go on and have your mind blown by a bunch of people you’ve never heard of. I don’t think full videos or even standalone sections will ever die but I think they’re becoming less appreciated now. I’ll always watch old full length videos but I can’t even remember what I saw on Instagram yesterday. Probably something fucked up (laughs).
Backside Flip at the charmingly named Rat Banks.
What has it been like taking photos for this interview with a man who literally can’t see?
(Laughs) Surprisingly good, he seems to be able to see when it matters.
I remember there was one time where you released 4 parts within just under a year. Are you still happy with the process of going out, filming and shooting photographs?
Yeah it’s always been the norm for me. The era I grew up in was all about going out, shooting photos and filming for either edits or bigger projects. It was pretty easy when Adam Todhunter still lived in Newcastle as he was always super organised. Always up for a shred even in the depths of winter. I’m still always hyped on filming though, go out and hopefully get something.
Are you working on any projects at the minute and when can we expect to see them?
Well I’m working on an edit with this guy sitting right here (Phil Steavenson), It’ll be out whenever he gets his shit together (laughs). There’s also Buster Caulker’s video which should be coming out pretty soon. Connor North has been killing it so keep your eyes open for that. I’ve also been filming some little bits and bobs for a music/skating project with Carter Hind and Ollie Roper. Just some chilling stuff to go alongside Ollie’s music. ‘Dodo’; check ‘em out.
So, skateboarding seems to be the cool thing in the world again at the minute. As someone who’s always been a core ripper, what are your thoughts on this?
I mean it’s cool that more people are skating but I find it hard to see if people are skating for the right reasons. I think as time goes on we’ll see who’s in it for the long haul and who’s jumping on the bandwagon. It’s not so much a problem for the core scene that’s always been there and aren’t going anywhere any time soon. I mean, I don’t really care for it. People are having fun, but it’s not skating.
What are your other interests outside of skateboarding?
(laughs) that’s a good one. Not a lot to be honest. Bits of music here and there but most of my time is spent skating or chilling.
You’ve never been distracted by the party life and always been about the chill. How has this affected your skating?
It’s a lot easier. Getting up to go skating is less hassle when you don’t have a hangover for sure. I’d rather go out skating all day than go out partying all night so it’s always been an easy decision for me. That’s just me I guess.
How many times have you punched your skateboard?
Ohh many number of times. I’m going to say 10+.
How many cigs do you smoke a day?
(coughs) I’m gonna definitely say 10+. I won’t reveal that number to everyone yet. Still haven’t counted (laughs).
Your style has changed quite a bit over the years. What are you into at the moment?
Recently I’ve been watching a lot of park footage. The Lakai video was insane and that’s definitely influenced me a lot. The new Blood Wizard video was pretty crazy as well, Santa Cruz too. When i was a kid I played around with styles a bit depending on who I thought was really killing it. Dylan Rieder and the Supreme boys for sure when Cherry came out. Maybe even Sean Malto when I was like 13 (laughs). I dunno I used to play around with shit when I was younger. All growing up.
Crail at dusk, Whitley Bay.
Who should people be looking out for in the future from Newcastle and the North East.
Finley Stewart is killing it at the moment! Scotch (Seaghan Crawley), Barry Peach (Harry Veitch), Connor North, The Cougar. Sam Anderson and the rest of the DAD? Crew have been killing it recently too! Keep your eyes out for them!
Although you were briefly given a few nicknames, none ever stuck. What were they and what went wrong?
There’s not been too many. Swan Gang used to call me ‘Cash Mani’ back when the weekend-tage was a thing. Just wasn’t G enough I guess (laughs).
What are your favourite Newcastle nicknames?
The Cougar (Lewi Johnson), The Cub (Craig Johnson). Ghetto Sean (Sean Tracy), had a few good ones like Geppetto and the Netto Prawn (laughs).
*Carter interrupts* ‘Dealer Reese’
(laughs) yeah Dealer Reese was great. If you know, you know, we won’t go into names here (laughs). Connor North still rocks Kony 2012 which is pretty funny. The Blind Johnny (Johnny Haynes) has always stuck. It’s not really a nickname though. He is legit blind (laughs).
What is it about old stuff that you love so much?
I’ve never really been a fan of technology or social media or anything. It just never clicked. Old stuff is cheaper and has more value to me. It’s a win-win.
What’s better the Newcastle Wasteland or the Moon DIY.
I really want to say the Newcastle Wasteland here but the Moon’s just in a different league. It’s just a shame that unless you can drive it’s quite hard to get to and when you do it’s a whole day kind of thing. The Wasteland is next to the metro so it’s the go-to chiller in the summer. The guys at the Moon are constantly building more stuff and they’ve got a lot of room to build on. Every time I go there’s something new to skate. Props to Ben Cook and the Moon Goons for that like!
Any last words/shout outs for the readers out there?
I don’t know about last words but yeah shoutout to Phil Steavenson for the interview and Johnny Haynes for the photos. Big thank you to Jackie and everyone at Native for hooking me up! Shoutout to everyone filming too; Buster, Carter. Just all the homies really, you know who you are.