Casper Brooker Interview

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Casper Brooker, Southbank, 2016. Ph. Sam Ashley

Casper Brooker is a young man of many talents (skateboarding, trou…) but there’s one activity he particularly excels at: pinting. This means that although he’s relatively shy, getting him to open up and give an insightful interview was a lot easier than expected. All we had to do was find an environment in which he felt safe (Wetherspoon’s), surround him with people he loves and trusts (fellow pint sinkers), and it was only a matter of time (lagers) before he started sharing some his most exciting tales of success (often involving urine) – a true inspiration for generations to come. –Arthur Derrien

Interview by Jacob Harris with Arthur Derrien and Kyron Davis

Arthur Derrien: Casper, maybe just start by talking about Southbank and growing
up skating there…
 Jacob Harris: How old were you when you first went there?
Casper Brooker: I first went there when I was twelve I think. It was like an Emerica Wild in the Streets thing, and I was only allowed to go because all the older people from my local skatepark who were allowed to go to London on their own were going, so I was allowed to go with them. I thought ‘oh my god this is so sick’, I’d seen it on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, and I was just so stoked I was like ‘oh that’s the 7 set!’ I remember I tre-flipped the 7 into a bank and won a pair of Emericas and then I just skated around for hours non-stop.

JH: How long had you been skating for?
I’ve been skating since I was eight.

Kyron Davis: We’ve been skating for about the same amount of time.
Yeah because we used to go to Bay together didn’t we?

KD: Yeah I started when I was seven and you’re a year older than me.
JH: You two are from a slightly different generation of PlayStation skaters, from like me, Tom (Knox) and Daryl (Dominguez).
KD: I remember seeing you one time like, do you remember the handrail, and like me and you were just hyping ourselves to jump on it and I was like ‘fuck skating it,’ you tried to do a crook but you fully sacked yourself and barrel rolled? That was one of the first times I saw somebody in real life, like take a proper slam.

I remember that clearly; I remember what shoes I was wearing. My feet were really far off the floor; I was tiny then.

AD: Back to Southbank I guess… How often do you still skate it?
Well now I don’t really like it that much but I still go there quite a bit. The scene down there has kind of changed – there’s always been like little rude boys there selling weed and stuff but this whole generation who started skating there, have just kind of cool guyed it, they’re all nice enough but they’re just not so into skating – there aren’t so many people there skating every day.
It used to be that I’d finish school on a Friday, I wouldn’t have to text anyone, I’d go down and there used to be loads of people there skating or sat by the river. The Friday night sessions would be amazing – I was too young to go to the pub so I’d just go to (Jack) Brooks’ house and eat sweets then go back at ten the next morning. But yeah I don’t skate there as much but I do enjoy it when I go there.

AD: Tell us about trou. Who’s been killing it on the trou front this year?
Do you actually want to know about trou? Funny how this has become a thing… Nik Stain’s got the steeziest trou. Well it all started from when I wore those skin-tight jeans. It became like an obsession: I wanted my jeans to be the tightest – I’d go with my mum to Topshop when I was really young and try and get really particular ones and cut them and sew the bottom up. It started from that. A little bit later on my legs were getting way too big for the really tight trousers. Then Leo Romero became my favourite skater so I’d try to get the same Levi’s he had – but I didn’t have the same leg shape so I’d lose my shit wanting my jeans to look like his… Then I got a bit over trying to dress like Andrew Reynolds and Leo Romero and saw everybody around Slam wearing Dickies and stuff like that, and then I looked at old Heath Kirchart footage and thought those trou are the best…

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Backside smith grind, Manhattan. Ph. Alex Pires

AD: And then they got wider and wider until…
Yeah now I can’t wear below 36 /34 and I put them on and think ‘do I want these any bigger?’ Then I look in the mirror and already look ridiculous. It’s a big obsession. Almost like an illness. Not that my trousers are especially amazing, just you know, I have to have three pairs of this certain colour so I can have them for this amount of time and if I get over them I can keep a pair and put them back…

JH: Recently you’ve been using trousers as a way to commit to tricks…
AD: What like ‘I need to get a clip in these trou’?

No, no, just like when it’s hard to get certain trousers and they’re quite expensive I don’t want to fall over and rip them straight away so I have to commit. The trou thing is a deep-rooted problem that will never go away.

KD: I didn’t realise how deep it is for you.
JH: Yeah I’ve had to bring out spare pairs of trousers when I’ve come to meet him filming. I would place you in the sort of broad category of quite neurotic skateboarders.
Oh yeah for sure.

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Ollie, Clerkenwell. Ph. Sam Ashley

JH: What other sort of rituals do you have around filming, or just skating in general?
When filming I definitely lose my minda little bit – I talk, chatter to myself and make a lot of false bets that nobody is going to follow through on. The other day I was trying something over a road gap and I couldn’t quite get my head around it; I was flipping the board up with my feet, trying to catch the board, not really doing it, tapping my board on four flowerpots and counting to four in Spanish: ‘uno, dos, tres, quatro’ then as I came around the corner I would scream.

KD: It makes sense though. If you have a little ritual it can help.
Yeah if I do the ritual once then it becomes what’s going to get me through and I can’t change it – it’s like if I’m trying a trick I can’t take my beanie off halfway through or I might not land it because something has changed… Definitely in that category.

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Gap to nosebluntslide, SOAS. Ph. Sam Ashley

AD: On the topic of you being a neurotic skateboarder, what also happens is that you are so absorbed that sometimes you let stuff you wouldn’t normally say slip. Can you tell us about the tre-flip over the handrail story?
Yeah that was really bad; I’m not exactly proud of that.

KD: Didn’t you call the geezer a cunt?
Yeah… There was a motorcycle that’s always there so we moved it a bit. So the guy who owns it comes back he was working on the construction site next to the spot, and he’s obviously a bit…

JH: He was a big fucker!
He’s like this massive Irish guy and has a wonky eye and scars on his head. Looks mental. And he obviously knows what we’ve done isn’t that bad, that we’ve done it out of courtesy not to hit is bike, but he just says ‘OK. Have a good day. Just leave please. Now.’ At this point he’s obviously holding in his fury and having a hard time doing it, you could tell he was about to burst. I was pissed off because I just wanted to do it – we walked past him leaving and he was on his phone just like ‘blah blah blah skateboarders’ and I just let slip ‘ah you cunt’ and then as soon as it left my mouth I was like ‘oh my god’ he stood right up and went for me and there were six or seven of us but nobody was going to stick up for me because I’d been the worst guy ever. So I just had to stick my arm up and apologise loads like ‘sorry sorry sorry!’ It was just me being fifteen again; it was embarrassing and a big mistake. A real shame.

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Ollie up, frontside shuv-it, Southwark. Ph. Sam Ashley

JH: That guy didn’t want blood, but wouldn’t have been able to help himself.
AD: I think you’re probably not the only neurotic person on the Isle team…

Going on an Isle trip is definitely an experience that I don’t think many people would really understand… When we’re all together we all egg each other on. Nick: massive tweaker really over-thinking everything and going from super quiet and withdrawn to hyperactive and Chris, who doesn’t stop talking and knows he doesn’t stop talking and drives you mad. Tom, with coffee crust around his mouth, who nobody can understand ‘cause he’s just babbling and Sylvain, who seems the most balanced in the whole situation, but I’ve seen him like in Barcelona when people were throwing eggs at us while he was trying a trick and he lost his shit running around making ape noises screaming at them in quite a serious way. Jon’s the only one on the team who can smoke weed and not have a mental breakdown. It’s just an odd bunch of people
who get put in a van together.

JH: Since we’re on the topic of neuroses tell us about night terrors.
I started getting night terrors when I was quite young. It usually occurs with kids from 7–12 when your body is growing and you’re not rested enough and you get stuck in a certain stage of sleep but I got it quite late. It actually happened once when I was sharing a room with Kyron (Davis) in Berlin during a summer Bright trade show (loads of booze and stuff).

KD: Oh shit yeah!
I’d come home early that night and Kyron walked in and I’m coming to from a night terror screaming at him, eyes blank and screaming, I come to and I’m so terrified.

KD: It’s like you were trying to fight someone. You were kicking your legs, the covers were off, everything was off; you were just flailing.
You just burst out laughing.

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Kickflip, Nablus, Palestine. Ph. Sam Ashley

KD: I just panicked because I was so shocked at the situation. Also yeah I did find it pretty funny.
I think the situation you want me to talk about (Jake) is at my ex-girlfriend’s house where I half had a night terror and then started sleepwalking. I was slapping her head a bit and started grunting, and sort of got up and was screaming a little bit – I was completely naked bumping into walls and getting angrier and angrier and then I went upstairs and pulled all these different coloured cloths and towels and made a den and was screaming while doing it – I’d pulled plants from the other side of the room, got these pig book holders that I had to get on my tiptoes to get and put them as what I would have thought would be guards to the den? I have no recollection of it, but I can definitely manoeuvre a lot when it happens.

KD: What did she do?
She locked herself in the bathroom. I woke up just completely naked shivering in my ‘den’. She was fuming with me but then found it quite funny that I had no idea what had been going on. It was quite funny, there was a lot of order to what I’d made.

JH: Have you done any sleepwalks recently?
Yeah, well if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. I went out with Arthur, Chris Jones and some other people in Peckham. I took myself home because I was a bit pissed, it wasn’t that late but at about six in the morning I came to as the sun was rising and I had my arm on the bed and my legs diagonally across the bed and was holding myself up… and I was urinating on my laptop. I’d rather not talk about it in an interview, but at the same time I’m not embarrassed because I have no control over things like that and I know some of the other things my friends have done… I have a friend that pissed on his wife’s phone a few times. Not just once, a few times.

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Ollie the first gap, impossible the second, Tate Britain. Ph. Sam Ashley

KD: I pissed myself in Scotland the other month.
I did it in Paris!

KD: Haha oh yeah, the best story! Me and you were in the room and you were like ‘shall I wear the white trousers or the black trousers?’ And I was like ‘obviously you’ve brought the white trousers for
a reason, wear the white trousers’. We get back and it’s like me, Vaughan…

Korahn was in there because he’d nicked my charger, Jacopo…

KD: You were just in there sat there with the covers off just laying on your back and Korahn was just like ‘hey look at Casper!’ and we could just see it (the pee) spreading there down your legs, haha. I was so happy I got you to wear the white trousers!
It’s not me being a wasteman though! My brother does sleep things all the time. I told my dad about the night activities and he just said ‘that’s not the worst thing you’ll do, it’ll get worse with age’.

JH: Growing up in London there’s a lot of famous skaters about, who did you used to look up to and has this changed?
When I first started coming to London and Southbank when I was twelve I met Fos and he became
a massive influence on me. Before that I’d watch Flip and Baker videos and then I watched Heroin videos and I was like ‘well that’s sick too!’. Then at like sixteen I got really into the Emerica thing and all I wanted to skate was handrails like Leo Romero and Heath Kirchart and I didn’t really take any notice of British skating. Then, at seventeen I’d go out with Holdtight (Henry Edwards-Wood), Snowy, Joey, Nick and Chewy and stuff and I re-watched Lost and Found and was like ‘this is great.’ When you’re younger you just want to watch Geoff Rowley hit his face on the floor then get up and do the trick. Then a bit later you appreciate Scott Palmer skating Hull in an England Rugby top. I started to appreciate seeing Chewy (Cannon) skate Southbank or seeing Nick do that nollie-cab grind at St. Paul’s. When I saw it I was like ‘OK I’ve never even thought of doing a nollie-halfcab on flat before.’

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Backside 50-50 transfer, Bermondsey. Ph. Sam Ashley

JH: What was behind the transition from Heroin and Emerica to Isle and Nike? Rumour has it Reynolds was really psyched on you…
I love Fos forever; he was such a big part of my life and is a sick dude, but I was getting to an age where I didn’t want to wear a monster on my t-shirt. I just grew out of it; you change all the time.
With Emerica, just after that 2013 UK tour with Oscar (Candon) and (Tom) Knox and Rob (Maatman)…

AD: You did that noseblunt!
KD: Everybody was talking about that noseblunt at Mile End! ‘He slid the whole thing and then grinded round the corner!’

At the time it was like the best trip of my life, but looking back it was kind of the American guys, then us guys… And they were so nice to us but you know… I’d quit Heroin and Isle was happening and I’d had a call with Timothy from Emerica and he was so nice and he wanted me to film for this video (Editor’s note: I guess it would have been Made?) and I just knew I couldn’t do that; it didn’t seem natural. How I was changing it felt right just to switch everything up. Around that time also I got my first girlfriend and I hadn’t done all that stuff before plus I was working a lot and just got a bit bummed out on skating. I still loved it, but I felt kind of over it.

KD: That’s what happens though: when you get a bird your priorities just entirely switch up. You lose time and… It just happens to everybody.
Especially when you’re nineteen and it’s kind of late, you just think: ‘oh my god this girl wants to have sex with me?’ I remember Knox having a word with me…

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Smith grind, Blackfriars. Ph. Sam Ashley

KD: He’s done that to me too! He’s come up to me and had a word with me like ‘Ky you’ve got to do this, that or that.’So now, when I have a question I will ask him.
What was the question again? Oh yeah, well at the time I remember Percy (Dean, former Emerica Europe TM) told me they wanted me to come to Texas and I was really hyped but I’m a skateboarder from London, I just can’t keep up with how those boys skate. It was never a money thing.

JH: Why do you top up your Oyster card £5 at a time?
I hate the travel system so much: TFL, Southern, etc., and I know it sounds so stupid and it just wastes my time, but I feel like if I put £5 on I’m giving them less money. I feel like fuck you I’m only putting this much on and I’m going to try and skate home. I am shooting myself in the foot a lot with it.

JH: You’re not from London you’re from Purley.
Purley is ten minutes away from Croydon; nobody knows where Purley is. There are three spots there: the metal mini ramp in the park, the mini ramp in my garage, and the NCP car park that is the car park for a gym. Well there’s the Tesco car park you can skate Sunday evening that (Paul) Shier used to skate.

(Jacob goes for a cigarette)

AD: Tell us the best and worst thing about living with the person (Jacob Harris) you’ve spent the year filming a video part with?
Well it’s not just a year, I was filming Vase too and I guess he’s the person I spend the most time with – one of my best friends. There have been some tensions but nothing that’s not been sorted, but never anything that big. We’re very different but both very stubborn and that can clash; I think we’ve done really well to maintain things. I fucking love Jake; he’s wicked at what he does. I find him difficult sometimes and I know he finds me difficult sometimes but what relationship doesn’t have its ups and downs?

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Ollie over the rail landing on the pad, Brooklyn. Ph. Alex Pires

AD: Maybe you can talk about filming for the Isle video. I remember you had a hard time getting into it, has this new part been any different?
Well at the beginning of the Isle video I was in a weird way with my feelings about skating, but then
I eventually did want to film for it. I went through almost the same thing with this part too… We started going into the summer and in the summer you feel like you’ve got all the time in the world and the pressure is low.

AD: You’ve probably had a pretty similar summer to me just going to infinite events where you don’t do so much skateboarding but a lot of drinking. Coming back from that to winter and a deadline must have been harsh…
Well you know what I do actually enjoy, especially in the past few weeks, the pressure that winter puts on you. Whether or not I’ve lived up to that pressure is another thing, but you do value the time you can skate way more in the winter. As much as it grinds me down, I do like it.