Shed the North Hit the Midlands Part Three | Interviews

  • Shred the North Hit the Midlands Part Three | Interviews

    Interviews: Dave Apomah.
    Photos: Johnny Haynes (unless stated).

    Ronny Calow

    When did you hear about the trip?

    I heard about the trip a few weeks before, the original plan was for me to head down from Darlington to Sheffield with a car full, they ended up running late so I just jumped on the train. I definitely beat them home for sure.

    What was it like having the homies shred your home turf en masse?

    It’s great seeing people experience Sheffield for the first time.

    How did the homies cope with skating the Dome and Dev Green?

    Erm well let me just say the Dome is not an easy thing to get your head around. It’s a tough thing to skate. It’s only when folks get to ride it they actually start to appreciate any output that thing gives. I think the same with Dev, on videos it looks great fun but when you get there it’s daunting. It takes a while to get into the rhythm for both but once you’ve found the lines and worked out some tricks they’re good.

    Do you have any plans to do more traveling off the back of this trip?

    I’m in Barca for my wedding anniversary so it’s not a Skate trip. I do have my board though. But, I never really plan to travel, and technically I didn’t really travel this time. I live in Sheffield. But I used to, a lot. Danny and I used to be road tripping every weekend. Never planned, just did it... comps, friends, parties, skate tours, love it - best of times.

    Your thoughts on road trips in general?

    They are a must. It’s the greatest part about Skateboarding.

    How sore were you of a full day skating?

    Of course, I’m 42 this year. It gets tough.

    Where is Dev Green and can you provide a little history on the place?

    It’s in the centre of Sheffield City, (the vortex). It’s a pretty standard prefab concrete Skatepark. Built in the late 90s and was a hub of activity when Sumo ruled the streets. It’s definitely had it’s fair share of big American pro skaters gracing it’s grounds.

    Which locals joined us on the session at Dev Green?

    There wasn’t many there to be fair, think Jack (Newman) and Jake (Wainwright) (both amazing skaters BTW) were there, the rest were the NE boys.

    What’s your favourite feature there?

    Do you need to ask? The fucking kicker man.

    How long has The Dome DIY been around?

    The building has been there for years. In fact some rollerbladers were using it for time. There were some wooden bits scattered around that you could fashion into kickers and ledges but I think they got burnt out or something.

    Who took the initiative to start building there?

    There’s only one man crazy enough to. Big New York Will, obviously he’s got a crew of guys involved but the initiative rests firmly with him.

    What challenges does the spot face?

    Like every DIY, the threat of demolition!

    What features do you enjoy skating there?

    Truthfully there’s probably only 4 bits I can skate. Ha ha

    Are there any future plans for the spot?

    That’s in Will’s head, I cannot tell you any more.

    What’s the skate scene like in Sheffield?

    It’s a great scene. Made up of skaters from every walk of life. We got older-guy crews, younger-guy crews and everything in between. People who take it serious to those who like to have fun. It’s a good mix.

    How important is spots like Dev Green and the Dome DIY?

    How important is any local Skate spot?

    When it’s your local, you love it, no matter how shit it may seem to a newcomer.. You remember all the rad times you’ve had there not just skating. It’s etched into the memory, you don’t focus on the actual obstacles, it starts to become more about that moment in time. There was a point in my life where I wouldn’t leave the 8ft wide 3ft high Rare Unit mini-ramp we had in Darlington. No matter how hard you tried! Thinking back now the place sucked. But wow, how much fun I had there!

    What’s good about the scene and what could do with an improvement?

    I think I answered the scene one above... I’m not getting into the improvement thing, skating is what it is, it’s what you make it. There’s no right and wrong way to do it. (Even though some people will tell you different, including me!)

    Peace


    Ronny gets tucked up at The Dome DIY.

    Alfie Wright

    When did you hear about the trip?

    Scotch said there was a space in his car, I wasn’t going to say no.

    Who was originally meant to be in your car?

    Fnewts.

    How many times did you end up skating dev green?

    Like 4 times while we were in Sheffield.

    What did you think of the Dome diy?

    Too cutty for me.

    How many times had you been to the House Skatepark before the trip?

    0 times.

    What did you think of the House bowl when you saw it?

    Let’s skate it! Concrete > Wood.

    What was it like doing so much driving over 2 days?

    Being a passenger was pretty tiring. Hands were numb from rolling cigarettes.

    You both tend to go big, charging around spots. Any interesting slams or injuries?

    The swellbow was pretty funny.

    Any tricks you were working on that you didn’t quite get?

    Plenty haha.

    What did you think of the Vault at Rollersnakes?

    Wish I didn’t have whiskey leg. Hardly skated it unfortunately.

    What’s so good about skating somewhere different with new faces?

    Fucking constant skating, everyone getting shit done, making me get shit done.

    How long did it take you to recover?

    Probably be damaged till death takes me.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate derby's night life?

    10.

    Do you have any trips planned for the rest of this year?

    Give me details and I’ll be there.


    Alfie Smiths at The House, Sheffield.

    Ben Cook

    When did you first hear about the road trip and what were your thoughts on the idea?

    Erm, I can't actually remember to be honest, probably at one of the skate movie nights I imagine. Pretty hyped though as I know it was gonna be the first little trip of the year.

    What was it like rolling with such a big crew?

    It was rad! I think there was like maybe 15 of us most of the weekend so it was good vibes.

    How often do you get to skate with them?

    Not often at all really other than the skate nights at Darlo. I think me and you were the only Sunderland lads on the trip so it was good to skate with those boys for more than just a couple hours.

    Which spot did you find the most interesting to skate?

    Probably the Dome diy in Sheff as it's not the easiest thing to tackle. Plus it was the first spot of the trip after a heavy night on the sauce so had to battle with drink legs also…

    Apart from taking crackin pics, what else is big John good at?

    Big Bad John is a world renowned freerunner and woodsman. He's also really good at not being able to see things.

    How important is a decent breakfast on a skate trip?

    It's a morale booster for sure, but not when the promise of unlimited hash browns turns out to be a fabricated myth by the hotel staff. That was a bummer.

    How do parks down south compare to the ones we have back home?

    The parks further south seem to have a lot more legit tranny stuff and are designed/built by actual skatepark building companies. The Clifton park being a good example of that.

    How did you cope hitting four spots in one day with a night out at the end of it?

    As mentioned, the promise of unlimited hash browns the next day got me through but dreams were inevitably crushed in the end.  Maybe that's the motivation we needed though.

    On a scale of one to ten, how extreme is big Johnny?

    Twelve.

    Any plans for more skate trips this year?

    Yeah I'd like to get up to Scotland sometime this year but nothing planned for that just yet. Got a trip to Barca in July and another to Berlin in August so should be a good summer.

    D.I.Why? (In relation to the Dome and your involvement with the moon).

    If you can built it then go out and do it. It might not last long but the whole process of planning, building and then have everyone session something you all chipped in for is so worth it. Sadly The Moon won't be around much longer but the memories of the place will be.

    If a cat fell from the top floor of a parking lot in a sprawling urban landscape, and Blind Johnny was at the edge of said landscape and spider-sensed this cat in peril, how confident are you that he could parkour himself across this expanse of mortar, steel and stone in time to save said cat from a fate worse than upside down pavement pizza?

    I'm sure I had a conversation with Big John that he's a dog person so maybe he wouldn't waste his abilities on a feline?

    Which spots did you not do or try a front feeble fakie at?

    Haha - probably the vert wall out the back of Rollersnakes. I was considering it but after that slam where I nearly snapped my arm I took it as a sign to call it a day.

    How amazing is Dave at sorting out road trips?

    About as amazing as Big John's parkour.


    Ben Cook Smiths at The Vault, Derby.

    Connor Stokes

    When did you hear about the trip and who were you riding with?

    Heard about it through you probably at 4motion at skatenight the squad I went down with was Mike, my bro and Jimmy, always a good crew and even more stoked to have Jim with me.

    What was it like rolling with a big crew?

    Big crews are always sick to go on road trips with, as there is always something happening. Downsides are trying to sort out food or shop stops, people waiting for ten minutes before deciding they fancy a bottle of water or dragon soup!

    How did you cope with all the driving and skating?

    I’m always designated driver so it doesn’t bother me, I actually like driving everyone round on some team manager shit hahaha. The skating side isn’t so bad either I get to choose spots or where to get food and keep everyone in check. I feel like a Dad to everyone…

    Where did you go street skating in sheffield and what was it like?

    We all met up at Dev Green and met Ron there, we then just blasted around the city hitting up bits and bobs which is my favourite thing to do in a city, have a cap on for a spot and move on to the next. You get to see more and just do what you want. The main spot was some metal planters out the front of the pub we were in the night before and it was fucking sick, J Honey put down some hot shit as did Mike, Jimmy and the rest of the boys, shout out to the bus driver who told us to grow up!

    What was the accommodation like on both nights?

    The hotel in Sheff was a self-service one which was strange, it was on a hill so we spent about an hour after we arrived just going down it fuckin about, I took a nice slam which was good… The woman who owned the place turned up in the morning and started chatting and turned out she had just dropped her son off at the skatepark and was stoked on us road tripping to skate which was cool. The Derby hotel was also fuckin weird, it was like a time machine, the bathroom was all decked out in peach porcelain and a beday, the room had an ancient hairdryer which was screwed into the desk, but what can you say for 18 quid a night haha.

    What did you think of Derby skatepark and how did it compare to what we have back home?

    Derby park was decent apart from that local kook tryna vibe us out. It was a pretty basic set up with some quirky bits thrown in, the bowl was a monster, steep as fuck and whippy, I just sat back and watched Ben and Scotch kill it.

    Big up Dave for makin it happen, big up everyone who came along and made it a sick trip big up J blast for gettin a clip of that homeless guy hahaha, wish I was there when that happened. Big up Ron for showing us round Sheff and the guy from Derby who let us skate the ramp even though I was fucked and kept falling off -until the next one!


    Connor Backtails at Dev Green, Sheffield. Photo: Dave Apomah.

    Darren Pearcy

    How did the Shred the North visit come about?

    You hit me up on Facebook, asking if you and some of your mates would be able to come and skate our ramp.

    How many people were you expecting?

    Like five dudes, so I was pretty stoked when 3-4 cars turned up!

    What were you and the lads doing before we turned up?

    Drinking beer and watching vert attack in the shop.

    How did the session go? What did the Derby lads think of the visit?

    Yeah it was fun man; it’s always good to session that ramp with new people. It adds an extra bit of life too it, I enjoy seeing how non-locals approach the ramp and how they ride it.

    What were the highlights of the visit?

    Just hanging out with everyone really. Watching Ben Cook and Seaghan Crawley skate was fun.

    What do you think of road trips in general?

    One of the best parts of skateboarding. What’s better than grabbing your mates, some beers and hitting new spots? Not a lot that’s for sure.

    How long has The Vault ramp been there?

    Damn, it’s like five years old now I think.

    How often does it get used?

    Everyday we’re open and then some. Obviously more in the winter.

    How influential has it been to the local scene?

    A free indoor ramp is always a good thing. It’s a guaranteed skate if the weather is bad, plus there’s not another mini ramp in central Derby really.

    What’s the craziest thing you've seen go down on it? Too much! Adam Gaucher, Ben Raemers, Nick Roberts, Alex Hallford have all done some mad shit. Watch it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KhKSepufqk&list=PLf2Z1mZLPZNR2vEwP5Szg-4KAbD-I0HLI

    Has it claimed many victims?

    Just the usual, nobody has been impaled or died yet. Won’t be long though… 

    Johnny Haynes

    When did you hear about the trip and how easy was it for you to get it sorted with Jackie (Native Skatestore owner)?

    I’m pretty sure the trip was one of those long time in the making type deals, the kind of thing you talk about and it very rarely comes to fruition... Unless you have someone like Dave sorting it out, going full Dad mode and cracking the whip. I know me and Dave had talked about it when he pops in the store on his lunch break, he.asked if I fancied coming along to take photos and have a good skate as well. (‘’Low key kill it’’ as Dave would say).

    Always a bit tricky getting time off at the shop as we’re always super busy and it’s hard juggling everyone’s dates but Jackie got it sorted so I could get out and roll.

    Which spot did you find the most interesting for photography and why?

    Probably the DIY spot in Sheffield, there’s a lot of stuff going on there which can make for some interesting compositions etc....I think my favourite photo from the trip though was shot at Dev Green, that place is a lot gnarlier than it looks on footage; Proper gritty og concrete park!

    Which spot did you enjoy skating the most?

    I think for me personally it would have to be that last park we hit, the one just outside Nottingham (Clifton), shame it was at the end of the trip though, would have loved to skate it with fresh legs and no two day hangover!

    What did you think of the first hotel?

    That hotel was an experience... unstaffed and literally zero other guests. You were given a code for the main door, your room number and the key to lock your room was just left on your table. Jordan who came down with us hadn’t booked a room and just helped himself to an empty one once in the hotel.

    The shower was canny gnarly as well, just a cupboard in the middle of the hall.

    How important is a good shower on a skate trip?

    I think a good shower is important in general.

    It’s what wakes me up and gets me ready for the day.

    Nothing more disappointing than a shower that resembles a leaky tap.

    It can all be redeemed with a bottle of Dorris (original source mint) though, which I managed to forget after the first hotel after Dave entrusted me with it... Sorry dude.

    Any stories from the first night?

    The first night consisted of dragon soup, fighting tramps and Dave getting the tequila shots in for a crew of 20+ people on his credit card, yes mate! Fighting tramps might be slightly over embellished but Josh did get a dig in the face from one for stealing a tab from another’s mouth.

    How did you cope skating two full days non-stop?

    It really helped to shake off the winter rust to say the least, I don’t usually skate two days in a row...unless it’s for an hour or two down Whitley Bay park most nights in the summer. But yeah took it out of me… Might be the fact I’m just getting old? (No offence Dave)

    How important is breakfast on a skate trip?

    If you plan on living on crisps and hummus throughout the day...a good breakfast does you wonders... Unless its chips and beans like at the second hotel, I’m still super bitter about that whole experience, the woman at check in had promised me hash browns, chips just don’t cut it!

    Are you a pool shark?

    Pool shark? Haha nah mate, can barely see the other end of the table never mind pot anything, although that clip Dave posted on insta made me look fucking pro....and as good as it was I still lost to big Jord two maybe three times in a row.

    What did you think of the crew? Would you be down for another trip? If so where to?

    The crew of people we went with was so tight, I didn’t really know a lot of the Teeside lads before this trip so was rad to hang out and get a skate in together. I didn’t even realise Jimmy was coming until I arrived in Sheffield , I was so hyped to see that guys face through the car window as we pulled up at the hotel. Jimmy was one of my favourite people to watch kill the old Redcar skatepark when I was younger.

    I think we’re already planning a trip north of the border for like the tail end of summer...go hit up Chris Baillie and get his lot to join us, maybe get a chance to go skate his barn I always see clips of.

    How long did it take you to recover?

    If I hadn’t have gone straight to my girlfriends for her to look after me I’d probably still be complaining about it now! She conveniently lives in Notts where we ended the trip so I went right to home-cooked food, a bottle of Dorris and a half decent shower.

    Jordan Brown

    What were you most looking forward to?

    To be honest I was mainly looking forward to just being on the road with the boys, having a laugh and skating, got to meet some new people too so that was pretty sick.

    What was the first hotel like?

    The first hotel was the perfect place for the crew! Pretty shabby but unmanned and uncensored! I Didn’t even pay for a room!

    Anything interesting happen on the first night?

    List in order of level of stupidity:

    I dared josh to steal a cigarette out of a sleeping tramps mouth which lead to him getting punched by another homeless person and nearly causing a street brawl! Funny but I still feel terrible about it!

    Me, Dave, Ben and Johnny having a topless push up competition back in our hotel room that turned into a Russian gang photography shoot.

    Big Jon showing off his mad parkour skills.

    How did you cope with the pace of the trip, hitting up four spots in one day followed by a night out?

    I powered through and pretty much drank the whole trip, can’t say my skating was up to much though. Next time I’ll lay off the beers.

    Who would win a stare contest between Blind Johnny and a picture of Blind Johnny?

    100% Blind Jonny.

    Is parkour a viable mode of travel for Blind Johnny?

    Without a shadow of a doubt! He’s next level.

    How would you describe your birthday night in derby?

    It was pretty messy from what I can remember to be honest, when I think back all the nights have blurred into one!

    How rough were you the next day?

    I was dying the next day to the point where I could barely skate.

    Which spots did you enjoy the most and why?

    For me it had to be the Vault, not that I skated much but the set up was amazing and loved watching Ben and Scotch hammer the vert wall.

    What should Big Johnny's next tattoo be?

    The word parkour across his stomach “thug life style.”

    Josh Blasutto

    How did you hear about the trip?

    Jake Mitchell came up to see me in Leeds a month or so prior to the trip and mentioned it to me, said I’d be keen as fuck to go. Then two weeks before had a surprise visit from Strevs and told me all the dates so I sent him the money to pay for everything.

    Who were you riding with?

    Too many legends to list them all but the whole North East crew - Was sick to see them all!

    How did you expect this to pan out?

    I expected to skate more but it ended up being a smoke/drinking weekend for me after Sheffield as I jolted my knee funny in the first five mins of skating in Derby but I got a little roll around in Notts later on that day thanks to my non-stop appliance of tiger balm haha.

    Any stories from the first night?

    First night was definitely one to remember… Got straight up punched in the face by a smack head because I nabbed a fag out of this dudes mouth while he was passed out. Definitely deserved it though, wish Dave was there to back me up, Dave’s harder than a Rhino on steroids.

    Which was your favorite spot to hit?

    That silver ledge in Sheffield. Got a good little sesh there before heading out to Derby.

    Which one did you struggle at and why?

    Struggled doing a front board pop out at that silver ledge because I kept sliding too far and kept ramming my axle into the curve of the ledge

    Got any more plans for trips this summer or later on in the year?

    Hopefully another one like this later on in the year, was so good to hang out with old friends. Also planning on going back home to Bali for a few weeks in November to see some friends and to skate.

    Is there anything you would do different on the next one?

    Yes! To not nick anything out of anyone’s mouths, one lesson isn’t enough for me.

    How long did it take you to recover after you got back?

    Next day, I’m 19 so I’m still resilient enough to be able to do that

    Anything else you want to add?

    Darloo!!! Darlooo! Darlooo!

    Pat

    How did you hear about the road trip?

    Strevs told me about the road trip, he just came up to me and said that he’d booked me a space in a hotel so I was like what the fuck because he just booked it without asking me, which was kinda funny but I was definitely game when I heard about it.

    Who was in your car?

    I had Strevs, Jake and we picked up Josh Blasutto in Sheffield as well.

    What was the biggest skate trip you've done before this?

    Just a little daft one up to Edinburgh with some of the Darlo lot, it was awful because I got proper bad sunstroke and whacked my head off the floor at this DIY spot and it was the most out of it I’d ever been…

    How long have you been driving for?

    Like 6 months so not long but everyone kept me well directed so I had no trouble.

    Which spot was the most interesting and which one did you struggle with, and why?

    All the street spots in sheff were interesting as it’s always cool to see spots from skate videos and then get to skate them and see what they’re like.

    What did you think of the dome diy? (artwork, ramps, the vibe at the place etc)

    I struggled at the dome so much because it was just so fucking whippy and weird to skate and I could just feel and impending bad slam coming on so I chilled at that one.

    What was the highlight of the trip?

    Some Highlights include the first night with Blinky chanting Magaluf Magaluf in the middle of the street, and me and jim bombing a hill pissed as anything in the rain, oh and all the incredible skating that went down too.

    How long did it take you to recover after the trip?

    Ah not long. I had an Epsom salt bath and was straight back down the local the night after I got back.

    Pick this up in print here.

    Part One here.

    Part Two here.