Interview: Clarky

Clarky on Strangeways Volume 3 and old Stockport spots

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Your new video is called Strangeways Volume 3. Why did you decide on this name?

It’s pretty tenuous and boring but all the other vids had references to The Smiths in their titles. Gaz came up with the title for Attention Stalybridge which was meant to be an etched message on the lead out matrix of a Smiths record and The Wythenshawe Waltz was a message etched onto the Meat is Murder record.

I just thought it was good with its Greater Manchester connections so I called the next one Strangeways because of the Strangeways Here We Come album. Plus I really like that whole area of Manchester, it’s a weird place with a massive prison and all sorts of aggy 90s behaviour going on.  I wanted to make a video that had a bit of that and was like an old 90s mixtape which is where the volume side of things came from.

Tommy Gore had this record that he showed me years ago made by the prisoners of Strangeways and the album art was a massive decider too. The covers on the videos are just complete rip offs of that album cover.

Apart from me, who is the best rider on Strangeways Volume 3?

It’s a three way toss-up between Tommy Gore, Leo McKenna and Mini.

What is your favourite clip in the video… AND WHY?

Sandy did that raspberry ripple hop near my house which was sick. There is one of Leo hopping into this tranny in a bad area of Paris we found ourselves in which required covert entry, execution and exit.

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Do you find it irritating that you can’t film yourself?

Massively, but I’ve got to keep the ego in check somehow.

Was it hard to get clearance rights for the music?

I scored the soundtrack myself in the back room on the 1z and 2z m8 so no problemo.

It’s been rumoured that you sometimes turn clips black and white to disguise dodgy garments. Any wardrobe offenders this time round?

I’ve not done it but I advised Addy to do so with some footage I gave him for his video. No one wants to see garish trousers or hi-viz woolly hats. I have left clips out of a video due to weird haircuts that I think look stupid though. I think others should do this too so we don’t have to see spice boy gym body nonces in videos any more.

You’ve travelled the globe for this video, filming in such exotic locations as Paris, Madrid, Scotland and Rochdale. Have you any notable stories from these adventures you’d like to share?

We wandered into a bad suburb in Paris, proper La Haine style gaff that had the greatest spot I’d ever seen, tranny banks everywhere, metal topped tranny ledges, the works. We didn’t get to ride it properly because we got told to leave by the large group of men that were posted up in there.

It’s raw over there when you get into those suburbs. It’s the best place I’ve been to ride. Cookie came with us and he had a treasure map that he had from previous trips there which helped us massively.

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On the subject of other places… your videos have quite a big following on mainland Europe. Why do you think this is? And who are your top three harsh Euro riders at the minute?

I don’t know but I like it. Maybe because we all have shit spots and bad weather and crap teeth and make the most out of it. That’s why I like certain stuff — because its obtainable.

I like LL Leopold and his cousin Eman from Croatia, they sold their baby gold for bike parts and I love that kind of dedication.

You’ve recently had double-glazing fitted in your editing-suite. How has this affected your life?

Best thing I’ve ever bought. The back bedroom was damp and freezing and was quite a miserable place to be while trying to make a video. Clothes never dried in there, damp smell, I had enough of putting a towel on the window sill to dry the condensation. Thanks to my old man and Mike from next door for fitting them. Well recommended.

You often like to edit on your laptop whilst sat in your car. Do you ever get mistaken for a computer hacker breaking into security mainframes?

It’s just to alleviate the boredom at work. I’d sooner sit in the car like a weirdo and edit on my dinner hour than sit with all the moaning blokes chatting on about car insurance or the receptionist’s tits for the hundredth time while eating a scummy ham sandwich that their ugly Mrs made for them.

Mouse or touchpad?

Mouse in the back room, touchpad in the Kia.

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Some yank gimp commented that they could do better riding in their sleep than what was featured on the promo. With that in mind, have you ever fallen asleep whilst riding your bicycle?

I haven’t but I reckon I could, maybe that would impress the little virgin.

I once had a dream where I was really shredding some trails doing mint table-tops and Dig-style motions over massive Posh-esque doubles. Have you ever had a dream about riding? And what is your dream bike?

Never a night dream but I day dream at work about riding and how to piece together lines. I sound like a wacko, but because work is so boring my mind wanders and I think about my route to town and map out lines in my head then as soon as I finish work I’m out and feel free. It’s pretty much all I think about.

My dream bike would be a chrome ‘96 Diamondback Venom, big gel seat, high lay back seat post, forward bars, bull bars, permanent lock on the frame that I’ve lost the key for and a mudguard. No one is fuckin with you on that thing.

Going back a few years now, it might be said that The Wythenshawe Waltz is the best riding video ever made (along with All Day). Is your new video better or worse than this?

Cheers. It’s well worse. Wivvy Waltz was a dream to make, everything before and since was a hassle. I’d put them in this order:

  1. Wythenshawe Waltz
  2. Strangeways Vol 2
  3. Attention Stalybridge
  4. Strangeways Vol 3
  5. Strangeways Vol 1

Both The Wythenshawe Waltz and Tomorrow We Work have the same initials. Is this is a coincidence?

I wish I was that subversive, complete coincidence.

Imagine you’re trapped for eternity in a cargo container with no windows, doors or light. You’re fed regularly and you’ve got a toilet, but apart from that your only entertainment is a widescreen TV playing a single BMX video on a loop. Your choice of videos is this… Wethepeople Lit, Kink Intervention or whatever that new Volume one was called. The TV/DVD combi is made of very strong material so it can’t be smashed. What video do you choose to watch for the rest of your life?

All pretty tasteless videos, I didn’t know why or what I was watching apart from the Jason Enns bit. I’d go on a Bobby Sands style hunger strike and dirty protest facing the wall with my hands over my ears till I snuffed it.

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Talking of other videos… what riding videos do you like to watch when you’re not watching your own?

Animal All Day is my most played, Nails in the Coffin, Skapegoat 6, Jim Newrick’s last few videos are works of art, Tomorrow We Work, 90 East stuff, that Skavenger vid with the Dave McDermott section is mint. It’s been the same for years. I try and get hold of crew videos that people have made off their own backs too.

Not a bike video but I watch Blueprint’s Waiting for the World and Lost and Found more than any bike videos. WFTW especially has been my biggest influence. Grim UK spots, top music and it showed me that it’s not all about stair counts, section enders, dramatic fade to blacks and check-me-out slo-mo’s.

A few decent videos have come out lately like Newrick’s and the Flukelife one. Why is it that everyone’s videos come out at the same time? Is everyone synchronised like when girls live in the same house and merge body-clocks?

Yeah it seems that way, they all come out at a similar time. Marv’s is coming out too. Just the video menstrual cycle that I hope never ends.

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Outside of the world of riding and skating videos, you’ve also got pretty substantial ‘movie-film’ DVD collection. Have you seen any good films lately? 

Not much at the cinema lately but I just re-watched Pumping Iron, a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early years which was fantastic. Been going through some old box sets over the winter mostly, Sopranos got a re-watch and I’m currently ploughing through Curb your Enthusiasm again. I agree with Tommy Gore’s outlook that, “life is better when you’ve got a boxset on the go.”

Although you’re ‘synonymous’ with Manchester, you’re actually from Stockport. Who is your favourite under-the-gaydar Stockport rider? And what’s your favourite deceased Stocky spot?

 There was always a steady flow of characters through Bones skatepark. Stockport borders loads of places and Bones was a melting pot of flavours. From the more rural bumpkin mad heads of Macclesfield, to the raw scally lads from Longsight and Moston. But since we’re talking about actual Stockport my top Stocky heads are two of my best mates:

1) Tommy Gore — we’ve been childhood bmx sweethearts since we first met on Manchester Road Park aged 15. He had a chrome Mongoose and yellow Slam Bars and did wicked wheelies. I enjoy his company greatly.

2) Gaz Hunt — he’s like the John Virgo of BMX. I’ve been in awe of his trickery and natural balance for years. We ride all the time together and nothing has changed since we were 16.

Although we didn’t ride them as much as we should, there were these mint red brick tranny banks near Debenhams in Stockport town centre. People would come from all over if they were still there. The top deceased Stocky spot would have to be the rugged Bones sk8 park — that’s where I grew up and met almost everyone I know.

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“Tommy gore doing a manny on Debenhams tranny around 2005ish. Only known record”

How do you feel about being pigeon-holed into the burgeoning pole-jam/storm-door/Ted Danson wall-ride scene even though you can also slay the trails and schralp concrete like Skateskull himself?

It’s a bit weird because I’ve probably only ridden about three storm doors in my life. I do enjoy a poley j though; I thought they looked rad after seeing big Skerbz doing them in the Skav vid and when the rat did that barspin one in Left/Right. I just wanted to be like them on my home turf.

On the subject of Skateskull, does he have a section in da video?

I forgot to put him in. The Skate Skull was sick, he was close to 60 years old, long flowing grey hair under his mesh hat, ripping up a big bowl, spliff in his mouth and nice as pie. That’s how I want to be when I’m that old. I want to go back up to Scotland and film a bowl section of him if he’s still alive.

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Videos… interviews… trips around the world… what next for Andrew Clarke?

Hopefully a bit of fishing, followed by a mini-ramp session at Platt Fields and a curry after with the missus.

In the critically acclaimed Urban Mist 3 you can be heard stating that after riding you want to, “Go fishing and have a dog.” You’ve since taken up fishing. Can you tell us your best tale from the riverbank? And what’s the biggest fish you’ve caught so far?

Not got a dog yet but it’s on the cards. Best thing was bagging my first carp, it was a pretty magical moment — a similar feeling to doing your first handrail. Not caught anything massive yet, probably around the 5/6lbs mark. It’s a decent size considering the puddle I fish at is an old bleach works pit full of bin bags and shopping trolleys.

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I’m not particularly good at fishing, and so far in my illustrious career I’ve caught nothing. Have you got any tips?

I’ve not been doing it that long but I found that keeping it simple and having a comfy chair works a treat.

That’s all I’ve got. Any wise words you’d like to pass on?

“I’m just happy being dumpy. Dumpy, fat and middle-aged.”

Get Strangeways Vol 3 here.

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