Mark Baines Interview
Growing up in Worksop, England Mark Baines has travelled many places through skateboarding. At age seventeen he went on a trip to California and was convinced by the Warner Ave crew to stay out there. But after overstaying his visa by a year and a half, a newly broken kneecap and a bit of homesickness Mark made the decision to head back to England. With that broken kneecap he miraculously filmed his Waiting for the World part for Blueprint in six months. He got the knee fixed and did a stint in London and Berlin, but somehow Yorkshire always brought Bainsey back home. We travelled to Sheffield, where Mark is now firmly settled, and had a chat about the old Blueprint days, the state of skateboarding in 2015, ‘Netflix and chill’ and more. Have a butcher’s…
Interview by Will Harmon
So to start this off, can you fill in the readers on how things ended with you and Blueprint? And when was this?
I don’t even know the exact time; I guess it was a couple of years ago. For me personally. I don’t know about the others, but for me when it went to America that was the time it changed completely. Everything just became more difficult after that. In terms of Euro distribution and everything like that it just seemed harder for them to deal with the Americans or I mean Canadians, whoever. So I just got fed up. I felt like we were all being lied to basically. From what (Paul) Shier was telling us things weren’t the way they were… Things were a lot different than it had been previously. We were used to dealing with (Dan) Magee and Shier and knowing what they were saying was straight up, but then suddenly it seemed like the Canadians were lying to Shier and lying to Magee.
So did you leave before (Dan) Magee?
Well it was weird at the time because Magee was doing less and less. I think I might have left before Magee officially left. I was the first one to leave pretty much; it was shit at the time and it sucked but then everyone else started leaving soon afterwards. It was a shitty ending. I wish it had just ended before it went to America. I wish it ended when the troubles first hit Joe Burlo and Faze 7.
In hindsight do you wish you guys had just did Blueprint on your own or something new instead of getting the Canadian investors involved?
I mean we spoke about it with Shier, but I don’t think Magee was ready to do something on his own with everyone. Hindsight is brilliant because you think: ‘hell we could have all done something’, but I think Nick (Jensen) wanted to do something different but he didn’t want the whole exact same team on. I mean if you are going to start something new, you got to have different people. Why just take the same dudes and do a new Blueprint? But I wish it had just ended before getting the Canadian investors. There were just so many bad feelings at the time, not just with us, but also with other people. You know you’d see Morph (Dane Crook) kicking off to the Canadian dudes on Facebook just because he believed in what Blueprint was.
And how did you feel when all the British riders were gone and the Canadians formed a new team of almost all Americans?
At that point it obviously wasn’t Blueprint. I had switched off at that point, because when you’re in the middle of it then it has a little more meaning, it’s more personal. To us, for so many years, it was like a family. Everyone was so tight; there were so many trips and so much history… So it was weird seeing everyone else fighting over it. So I just switched off. I mean when Mike York got on… I mean Mike York is Mike York, he’s sick, but he should never be on Blueprint.
And now you are on Fabric, can you tell us how that came about?
Well I had spoken to a few people and said that I might leave Blueprint and that I was over it. And then looking at the other companies you try and see where you would see yourself and a lot of the companies in the UK seem set. Landscape was set and you know you just realise you wouldn’t fit in to most of the other companies and I just thought Fabric was something new with potential. So I just chatted with the Fabric guys over the period of a month and then I just decided to do it.
Have you ever thought of doing a skate company yourself?
It’s so hard doing a skate company. You look at how many there are in the UK… It’s an insane amount. You have to get really lucky to really make it. You have to do something that people really want to buy in to. I don’t have the funds to do it, it costs so much, and also it’s a headache.
So do you have a more active role in the Fabric team or do you consider yourself just a rider?
Yeah I think I have a bit more of an active role because obviously I’m a little older than the other guys. I try and organise trips and I try and get involved with the graphics side of things. I mean I’m not a designer, but we all have a say – there are like three or four of us that have a say in what’s going on. I feel like there’s more room for me to have a say than before. At Blueprint Magee and Shier made most of the decisions and all I had to be was a team rider. But yeah, I definitely do more now.
Also I know you do a WESC Skate camp. Why did you start this and can you tell us more about it?
Originally I just started it because I needed to do something else. I mean Blueprint went, DVS cut me, so I thought ‘right, I either need to get a job outside of skateboarding or I need to create something else that’s still within skating.’ And then I’d already been out in Sweden helping with the (WESC) camps over there so I just asked Ricky (Sandström) if he minded if I brought it to the UK and I would set it all up and they could just give the product out like they did in Sweden. And it worked and it was a way to keep myself in skating rather than going to get a job doing whatever. That was the goal and it’s good… It’s quite rewarding seeing the kids come and have a good time. It’s a good way to be involved in skating without dealing with all the industry stuff that a lot of the other jobs entail.
So you’re 36 now, what’s it like hanging out with young skate kids that are like twelve and thirteen years old?
Well I sit and listen to their conversations and I learn all types of things. For instance I had no idea what ‘Netflix and chill’ meant. Do you know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means?
Well I had no idea either and they were in the back of the van, we were taking them to the park and they were just going on about ‘Netflix and chill’ and so I asked them what it is… So basically it’s when you get a girl around and you watch Netflix and chill. (Laughs) And I’m listening to this and I’m thinking ‘I’m so old!’ you know what I mean? Yeah because I don’t have much interest in what’s going on in a lot about skateboarding these days, so listening to them I’ve learned a lot. It’s funny, you see how into it they are and it reminds you of how you were when you were a kid.
So do the kids ask you weird questions at the camp?
Yeah, there was this one kid a few weeks ago Zach, he just asked me randomly, the second day he was like: ‘Do you skate?’ Because he didn’t think I skated and I was just some old guy that arranged these camps and then I told him I had been skating for twenty odd years and he said: ‘No way!’ And then we played S.K.A.T.E. the day after and then some of the other kids showed him some old videos and then he believed that I skated. But yeah, you get some random questions and some of the kids have no idea who you are. I think they just think I’m some random guy organising a skate camp.
Camp Counsellor Mark eh?
Yeah. We have the camps in the summer and on the Easter holidays. But I don’t want to do any more than that. It’s about quality not quantity.
I know you lived in Berlin for a while, London for a bit and even America a long time ago, but you always seem to come back to Sheffield. What always brings you back to Sheff?
I dunno, it’s home. Berlin got to a point… Again it came down to when people stop paying you for skating what do you do? You get a job, but at that point I didn’t really want to work in Berlin; I didn’t speak German. What could of job could I have got? It becomes hard to survive without a regular income, it makes it difficult and I’ve always had my house in Sheffield. So on top of having to pay for where I’m living I had to make sure I could make the payments for my house too. So I just came back here (to Sheffield). With London too, it was just too expensive. So I always come back to Sheff, it’s good to skate here. Sometimes I do get bored of it, but it’s a good base. You got Manchester nearby, Leeds, two and a half hours to London…
And you travel around the UK quite a bit skating right?
Yeah I do. I mean you go up to Huddersfield and there’s so much to skate. There’s so much in Manchester too.
Mark you’ve been in the skate game for quite a long time, since the early nineties. What do you think of the state of skateboarding in 2015? And where do you see it going in the future?
It’s weird, you know you must notice it yourself that things go in cycles…
I noticed that everyone is bleaching their hair now. It’s not a new thing; it’s not like something someone’s just come up with. I remember Mike Carroll and whoever else were doing it way back when…
Yeah in the Plan B Questionable days…
Exactly. People were doing it in the nineties; we did it when we were in school. You see things that are hyped up like it’s the new thing, but it’s not new. It’s all been done. It’s very hard to come up with stuff that hasn’t been done. You know the whole thing with wallies… I remember in the mid-nineties things were so tech, but then you started to see East Coast skating going fast and doing wallies like Ricky Oyola in Eastern Exposure 3… It all comes around, but I think it’s okay at the minute. At the industry level I don’t know how good it is… There are a lot of hype brands that do really well. There are obviously a lot of corporations involved too and I mean everyone has an opinion on it. It’s hard to tell where it’s all gonna go…
Your guess is as good as mine…
It’s funny because I walked into… At the camp where we stayed we have a room that’s like a big cinema, like a projection so you watch stuff on the wall basically. And I walked in and they were watching Street League, but I didn’t realise they were watching Street League – I thought they were watching wrestling. Because the shot they were showing was just of this big crowd and they had all these crazy stats coming up and then I just walked out, but then I walked back in and I realised they were watching Street League. It was crazy to see. Maybe that’s going to be part of the future, the way it’s going.
I guess you talked about everything being done, but that is a new thing in skateboarding…
Yes, that is new thing. All the other stuff you’ve seen before. It’ll probably be tech skating coming in again with combos in the next five years.
Do you think skateboarding will make it into the Olympics and if so, what’s your opinion on that?
Well it seems like that’s the way it’s going. Personally I think it kind of sucks. I think it’ll take skating away from its core values. I dunno, there are people who are in it that are core skateboarders, but is there going to be a place for pro skateboarders that aren’t in the Olympics? Will there be any money for them? Will only the skaters in the Olympics get paid? I honestly don’t know where it’s going to go… It’s a strange one. I do think it’s going that way, I mean Street League is huge. I mean I see a lot of the kids that come to the camps and a lot of them have Element Nyjah Huston boards and stuff like that. I mean he obviously has his place in skating, it’s not like he’s not incredible, but for me personally it’s not the kind of skating I want to watch or can relate to. It’s not a true reflection of skating, especially in this country with our shit spots and crap weather. I don’t know it’s a weird one.
So what are your future plans?
In the immediate future I just want to concentrate on doing some stuff with Fabric and doing the same stuff I’ve always done: just skate and film. And obviously now with the camps, just try and keep them going and try and build on that. And I just want to try and keep it more about skating and not try and stress on that too much. Since I was young, I always remember people saying ‘it’s not going to last forever’ so I never felt like I fully got to enjoy it because I was always worried that it would end at any moment. So I’m just trying to not stress too much about the future.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
Just obviously the people I ride for, the people who help me out: Fabric, New Balance, Lost Art, WESC and Bliss Wheel Co. And then everyone that helps out with the camps, I appreciate that. And then just friends and family, that’s all.