What is an ‘am’?
Christ knows! What did I put last time? I’ll have to dig it out. Up until I was about 14/15 I never made the connection between Pro and Professional, just thought a Pro was someone who was better than everyone else.
R U still an ‘am’?
Going off my early teens definition mentioned above… yes. Never really took off for me after the Dig article in the way it did for my good buddy, Geoff Slatts. No bitterness from me though, we’re still tight.
He calls me occasionally for a chat and will send the odd photo of bowls he’s struggling to find lines in to film. I’ll offer my advice and he’ll thank me. We still look back at the article every now and then and share a good laugh over the answers we gave. Good times…
You’re quite the hobbyist. Before getting into the radical riding scene can you give me a run-down of things you were into?
I was an avid magazine collector for many a year, it started with Match and Shoot before quickly progressing onto the thinking man’s footy mags — FourFourTwo and 90 Minutes. RideUK and Sidewalk (bought the first ever Sidewalk if we’re scoring points?), maybe the odd MBUK, snowboarding magazines, a few Surfing mags when on a family holiday in Ilfracoombe, Fast Car and Max Power despite not even having an interest in cars (then and now).
I bought two tattoo magazines when on holiday in Spain — I must’ve been about 9 or 10. There were all pictures of birds with tits out and pierced bell-ends that I didn’t see when browsing in the shop. Had to hide it from my mum and dad. Used to buy Metal Hammer for a while;I was an expert in heavy metal despite having never heard what it sounded like.
Football – Saturday and Sunday plus two lots of training in the week up until I was about 14 or 15.
Rollerblading, although never aggressively, on the playground at the school at the bottom of my road or, if I was really lucky, my mum would take me and my brother to Roll-a-Rama in Hazel Grove.
When was the first time you did something sick on a bike?
In the woods at the bottom of Marple Hall on the newly built step-up. Reckon it was either autumn 96 or early 97 as it was well muddy. Down there on my own I could see two riders I hadn’t seen before approaching.
Keen to make a good impression, I slipped my XL Hammer Dog Bowls over my Adidas trackies and unleashed the biggest no-footer I’d ever done over the step-up. As I rolled back round I let up a knowing nod to my new found radical acquaintances. They were Jono and Greggsy from Bredbury and they were impressed.
The year is 1998, it’s a Saturday and Stockport Bones is your oyster. What’s your standard entrance line? What’s on the boombox? And what R U wearing?
If it’s a Saturday in 98 I’ll have been playing football for school and got home around dinner time, rushed up stairs and into the shower, wolf down a couple of mini Cornish pasties and ring Matt Coram on the house phone.
Bev (his mum) tells me Matt, Jono and Robin have already set off. BOLLOCKS! Persuade my mum to give me a lift there and eager to maximise the time I put my pads and helmet on in the car on the way – always wondered why I got funny looks from passers-by.
Matt Coram would ask if I’d brought his NOFX album with me. I’ve got the case but no disc… great! We then spend the rest of the time there listening to ‘Left My Wallet in El Segundo’ on loop or some other jazz-hip-hop rubbish that was always on.
I’m wearing my newly purchased Element size 34” waist jeans despite then being a 30” waist, Kastel Chop Tops in black and Shorty’s fold-up Fuck You message t-shirt with a nought back and sides buzzcut – “as short as it’ll go on top without sticking up.”
Continuing from the last question, imagine this scenario… Taj has just wandered in. He’s wearing beige chinos and a Fox t-shirt and he has a certain spark in his eye — a spark that says, “Me, Joe and Tubby Morales are starting something real neat and we need a young Stockport shredder on the team to keep the UK Distro’ sweet.” What trix do U pull out of the bag to impress the ethical talent scout?
Being of a fairly poor standard and lagging behind Matt Coram and Jono in the trick stakes, I’d probably take a back seat and have a Drifter and a red slush whilst watching what golden-era Taj brings to the Bones table (and tabletop! LOL).
If I was forced to ride or face death-by-downside-whip I’d probably bust a one-foot-x-up over the box and try a fakie wallride out of the upstairs flatbank that I’d seen Chris Hamer try at an earlier Bones comp. Like every other time I’d tried it, I’d fail miserably.
Following on again from the same scenario… later in the day Luc E pulls up in his low-rider and cracks open a cool six pack of Miller Lite. He’s not at Bones to ride, he’s there to catch a sweet buzz and enjoy the vibe. Noticing that you’re parched, he offers you a canister, but Taj is stood behind you on the spine mini-ramp.
Do you take up Luc E’s offer of frosty liquid ecstasy, or do you turn your nose up to keep the T-Dogg sweet?
My early days of cataloguing every BMX video ever made will have stood me in good stead; having rinsed UGP’S Face Value and the Bethlehem scene report off Props 21 I’d have been well aware that Taj and John Englebert were good buddies hell bent on pushing the BMX envelope and not likely to be worrying about whether I drank or not.
With that in mind, I’d have politely thanked him for the offer but said no as the last, and only, time I drank a beer I’d been sick in a car-park near Tom Kershaw’s house.
Can you please talk me through the day you first pulled a
flip at Edward Woodward’s stunt-camp?
Eye of the Tiger morning warm-ups completed and drill training with sparring partners over, we were left to our own devices for a few hours. Me and Robin, managing to reign in the giddiness for the first few days, gave in to our temptations and head to the Practice Pit.
Robin went first and boomed a big loop into the foam and then it was over to me to follow his lead. Only before I had chance the whole of Woodward Camp had gone into lockdown, whistles blaring, shutters closing and Ramp Marshalls issuing orders. “NO BACKFLIPS INTO THE FOAM, BUDDY!” It turned out you were only allowed to do them in the foam under tuition but were free to try them on the resi/normal box… mental.
TO THE RESI-BOX!!!!! Again, Robin went first and pulled one as I was struggling to clear the massive jump-box before it, then with that out of the way I committed to the huck.
Took me a few crashes but got there eventually, the vibe was progressive and the crowd rowdy, Big Andy C was whipping and me and Robin were, eventually, flipping.
Who was your tutor? Were they pleased with your rotation? And have you got any tips 4 da flip?
Rich Hirsch was my tutor/preacher/nutritionist/masseuse/spirit guide/footwear analyst/media guru for the time I was there. Richy Rich wasn’t present for our upside down antics — probably talent scouting for his next skate-inspired brand or on a conference call to suede suppliers in Korea. As for flip tips, go fast, pull back, hold on and keep your eyes open. This applies to love making too.
When did you last flip off?
Last time was in a moment of madness at the Boneyard. No forward travel on the loop and ended up landing in a folded up Beringer style sprocket stall. Twatted my knees on my stem and buckled my back wheel so bad that it rubbed on both sides of my frame.
I spent the rest of the time there truing my wheel whilst eating a chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle. Thinking about it, Clarky probably did the truing and I just scoffed my face.
What happened on the Woodward jump-boxes?
The prospect of jumping two jump-boxes situated at the bottom of a large, steep hill proved too hard to resist for Stockport’s numero uno class-clown, Andy Clarke and being his trusted partner in crime I decided to hop into his slipstream.
Within seconds we were flying down this hill; for some reason we skipped the smaller first box thinking that we’d save our speed for the larger one – not the best decision I’ve ever made. By now we were hurtling towards the take off to the whoops and wails of thrill seekers in the nearby cabins and before I had time to say, “Clarky, this is mental!” he was in the air.
Not wanting to let the side down, and being unable to stop anyway, I followed his line. The top of the jump-box quickly disappeared then the landing disappeared quicker, I could see Clarky struggling below but I was still travelling – picture that Colin Winkelmann pulled-by-a-car-long-jump and you’re not far off.
The landing, when it came, wasn’t pretty; I was sliding around on my elbows’ and knees about eight foot away from the bottom of the landing whilst Clarky and the rest of Woodward were in fits of laughter. The closest I’ve ever felt to being a daredevil!
Since Woodward you went on direct the critically acclaimed Attention Stalybridge with Andy. How did you cope with this mammoth undertaking? How come you sacked off the world of moving images?
I didn’t cope very well. I’ve got a short attention span so would spend most of the editing time watching Youtube videos of old Corrie episodes, going to get a drink, going to get something to eat, doodling, putting on a video, getting another drink and on and on… basically anything but editing.
The thought of filming and making a video is much better than the actual doing of it, like most things really. If Clarky wasn’t filming and still making vids I’d have probably carried on with it but it’s safe in his hands.
Were Olly Olsen’s damning comments on Streetphire (“…although he does O.D. on the 180 bar”) the reason for your noticeable shift in style to smooth cocoa-butter carve-life?
The dark satanic street lord? Nah not really, just get bored pretty easily so tried to spice it up a bit although I’m slowly creeping back, the four piece bars and pegs are back on and it won’t be long until my brake knackers and that comes off.
Clarkyists and ‘sick spot m8 bores’ will have noted that I do at least one 180 bar in Clarky’s follow up vid, The Wythenshawe Waltz.
Is less more or is more less?
Style or Tricks? Stylish tricks? Trickless Styles? Tryle Sticks?
You’re not adverse to quirky components. Give us a run-down of your top three hot Gary Hunt bike-bitz.
Kink Slim-line-racer-boi-Christophe-Leveque seat – at the time it was quite a radical departure from the stodgy DFS sofa saddles that Tommy and Clarky were repping.
Shad Con assorted parts in envious green – green waffle grips, green front hub nuts, green crank shim to name a few. Never had any particular affinity to Bon Ronner but Harry Hall’s had a limited parts cabinet at the best of times and they were the best of a bad bunch.
Adam Drinkwater bolt on pedal protectors – too many weeded-out hours sat in Note cooking up a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist with these wet weather death traps. A solid sheet of stainless steel strapped to one side of your pedal may well stop wear and tear from pedal grinds but try doing a no foot can-can in the damp conditions of Bones and it’s like a BMX roulette.
How come you’re always getting flashed at? Can you explain, in detail, the story of the Wythenshawe wank-man?
I must just have a face that screams ‘lose your inhibitions’ at people. This particular incident must’ve taken place around spring 2010. Spirits were high, booze was flowing, drugs dabbled in, I’d just met Rebecca and Gaz had himself a new coat; this was my ‘mad fer it’ stage and it lasted about three weeks.
At the end of one of these boozy sessions I’d said my goodbyes, hopped onto the 43 bus heading to West Didsbury and got myself comfy… a little too comfy. Next thing I knew I was staring out of the window into the bright, morning sunlight but this wasn’t West Didsbury, it was near Cheadle where the road passes over the motorway.
After diving off the bus at the next stop and finding out that the next bus back wasn’t for another two hours, I decided to walk it back. Not ideal but it wouldn’t take that long I thought.
It was about this time that I first spotted Wank Man, he looked like a dark haired Larry David with cream trackie bottoms ripped up and his t-shirt tucked in and was across the road walking the same way as me with a mad grin on his face.
If ever you’ve done a drunken long distance walk you’ll know it pays to block out your surroundings and stick to the task ahead so that’s what I did, unaware
that Wank Man had crossed the road.
Next time I saw him he was stood with his back to me, nothing to see here, probably just a fellow reveller needing a piss, I thought to myself and continued walking. A few minutes later and he was up in front of me, again near a tree, only this time stood facing me finishing what I thought was another piss. Pretty vigorous shake-off though.
It was only as I got closer I realised he wasn’t having a piss at all and was instead staring right at me whilst pulling himself off. “Fuckin’ hell, mate,” I muttered as I walked past still not really knowing what was going on. I looked behind me, quickly turned the corner and then legged it for about ten minutes flat. Goodnight.
How is your banjo string?
The body is a wonderful thing and in many cases it can, and will, take care of itself. If only it had done so a little sooner it would of spared me the embarrassment of being lay, legs apart with my coat still on having my balls and shaft inspected by the doctor all whilst the broken door kept swinging ajar, providing the patients in the waiting room a front row seat.
Has your dad come to respect your riding, or does he still curse the day you hung up the footy boots in favour of freestyle?
Big Dave was always a big supporter even if he didn’t know what it was all about or why no one ever won, though I think at first he thought it was another fad of mine that I’d got from my magazines.
He took me to Bike 98 and 99 and to this day he still mentions Stuart King and Taj Mahal if I mention riding – “Who’s the fat one who’s no good, Gaz?” (Dad’s scathing assessment of Robbie Morales).
You had a brief stint learning to play the guitar. How did that go? If I handed you an axe could you still shred? And what would you play?
The Stairway to (axe) Heaven dreams were over before they started and so to answer whether I could shred, it would be a definite no.
The problem was, going against all advice, I thought I’d be able to dive straight into power chord heavy riffing ala Dimebag Darrell and so went in balls-deep with a pearlescent blue Flying V; great on stage, not so great when you’re sat on the edge of the bed trying to flick through a Beginners Manual whilst it keeps slipping off your thigh.
You’re happily married. Have you got any tips for matrimonial bliss?
Say yes more often than you say no. Simple.
Whilst it may be said that you possess more natural talent on a bike than Andrew Clarke, it’s him who gets all the net-nerds spaffing white ribbons all over their ultra-minimal super-cool apple-mackintosh screens. Do you think you would be more successful if you wore black jackets and did urban art?
As you well know, in this business, talent only gets you so far, buddy. It’s about drive, determination and 100% effort every time you step on your bike, going big not going home, passion, grit, consistency and a never say die attitude to name just a few. Van… I mean Andy, has it by the bucket load which makes him the top dog.
Plus, I’ve never really worn black jackets as they seem to be a magnet for fluff and the one time I tried my hand at tagging my Mum was onto me in a flash.
Marple has rich BMX pedigree. Can you please name for me your three all-time favourite Marple riders for me please?
Splodge, or Bodge as we used to call him – a smooth and sultry maestro of the now defunct art of mini-ramp riding who we harassed into doing feebles and abubacas for us down at Marple Hall school. We used to knock on for him at 9am on a Sunday morning to see if he was coming out riding with us. I was 11 at the time so he would’ve been about 21 and probably hung-over from the night before; he’d politely tell us he wasn’t coming out. Pleasant chap, wasn’t a moron and knew about skating too – he set a pretty good example.
Matt Coram – a bit of a dirt/box jump wizard, Coram was barspinning trails before I could even jump them and once bleached his hair blonde to try and look like Sean Butler but it turned ginger instead. Certainly had his moments when it came to stunts but was always a bit of an unsteady twitcher when it came to getting airborne; I remember one time he looped out of a barspin over the spine and landed on his arse – I knocked on for him a few days later and he’d strapped a settee cushion to his arse to stop it hurting when he sat down.
Sam Leighton – the first person I’d ever seen do a rail that wasn’t on a video, which he managed to do despite not being able to bunnyhop high enough. Also the first of us to buy a ‘proper’ BMX, he had a Hoffman TAJ (Totally Awesome Jumper) with chrome frame and forks. Looked mint.
Bit of a wildcard really, he got banned from Bones for smoking weed and turned up at a Bones jam that Hamer had organised with a homemade ‘SHEEP SUCKS’ T-shirt… never found out what that was all about. The last time I saw him he was walking out of the woods nearby to where I lived where he’d been “looking for positive energy” – something to do with that book The Celestine Prophecy I think. Last I heard he’d moved to Mexico and got a woman twice his age pregnant.
Do you keep in touch with Jackson Ratima?
Very rarely but those times at the Clock Tower in SF were something special. Such a welcoming group, great spots, great conversations, great times. We may never talk these days but I know if I were ever to find myself back in the Bay Area we’d pick it up and it’d be like old times for Big G and J-Rock. Great dude.
Can you name for me please your three favourite mid 90s flatlanders?
Sean McKinney – Puma Suede’s, ripped up socks, cream chino’s and white vests, pony-tailed liquor lover, S&M Sabbath… only in America! The ultimate hard-a$$ and the BMX answer to Phil Anselmo.
Amos Burke – best rider ever if there is such a thing; mint style, mint looking bike
and didn’t just ride flatland. I even ended up with his old frame!
Paul Osicka – dual levered front brake car-park gnome with a flickering flame of a flatland style. Always thought white bikes/parts look grim but he managed to pull off an all white Tao steed.
What is a Balance Boy?
Not knowing any other skaters in Marple to use as a reference and with it being quite hard to make out what the person was actually doing from a still photo in Sidewalk, it wasn’t uncommon for us to get the names of tricks wrong in the early days.
I’d seen a photo of Chris Pulman doing a manual and the caption read ‘Chris Pulman, Balance Boy’ so from then on it’d be “How far can you balance boy?” or “Al, try and balance boy the block.” From memory kickflips we called switch flips and rock fakies were blunts, we must’ve sounded well better than we were.
You’ve paved the way for all manner of technical trickery… what motions have you got planned for 2015?
2015 is the year of the decade tyretap.
Have you got any wise words you’d like to pass on to any young guns out there getting radical for the first time?
Put your phones down.
ARCHIVAL TECHNICOLOUR IMAGERY COURTESY OF THE ANDREW CLARKE COLLECTION
EXTENSIVE INTERVIEW TAKEN FROM URBAN MIST 6