Joe Gavin Interview + Remix part
When we started Free a year ago Joe Gavin’s name was at the top of the list of skaters we wanted to feature. In fact, we’ve been yearning to interview Joe for ages even when we worked for that other mag (I won’t mention the name, but they don’t print mags anymore). If there’s any skater from the UK that deserves some shine then it has to be Joe Gavin. Everyone in the UK knows who Joe is, he’s been ripping for ages, he’s constantly putting out footage (a few years ago I think he had like four parts come out in a year!), he also films and edits, paints and Joe truly represents Manchester to the fullest. But due to scheduling difficulties, Joe’s injury, rainy weather, starting a new magazine and so on it wasn’t possible to do this interview until now. So I was pretty excited to say the least when I met up with Joe to do this interview on a hungover morning after the London Away Days premiere. Over coffees and a greasy fry-up somehow the stars finally aligned and I got to interview my mate from up north.
Interview by Will Harmon
Joe we wanted to interview you a year ago when we first started Free, but we had to push it back until now. Can you tell the readers out there why?
Yeah well Sam (Ashley) was meant to come up (to Manchester), but the day he was meant to come up, he couldn’t make it and I fucking stuck on a nosegrind at Urbis and broke my arm and my wrist pretty bad. And I was meant to be going to Thailand on the Monday with my girlfriend, but I couldn’t go because I needed an operation. Since then it’s kind of knocked my confidence a bit.
Is this the first major injury you’ve had?
Well I did my knee in about ten years ago, but since then I’ve been so lucky. It’s my left arm as well so it’s the arm I always fall on you know what I mean? And I couldn’t straighten it and it was pretty fucked to be honest. So since then I’ve just been trying to get strong and get back on it.
And hasn’t Woody (Gary Woodward) given you physio tips?
Yeah Woody was amazing. I just worked when I couldn’t skate so Woody would just drop by the shop (Note) and we’d do physio for 20 minutes. He’d pull my arm into crazy positions and he’d give me weights and he kind of saw it as a little project in a way. He’s helping out all the skaters in Manchester.
Yeah I heard that.
You can’t really ask for a better person you know?
Yeah well he knows skateboarding…
And he knows injuries too!
So how about Nev (Mathew Nevitt) showing up Noel Gallagher a couple weeks ago… Were you at Note that day?
No I wasn’t, but that was fucking cool wasn’t it?
Yeah! Had you guys seen him about before?
Nah, I’ve never seen him. But that was my mate Kev (Eley) who works with Nev, and he was just like: ‘ah you gotta do it!’ So they saw him go into the shop across the road and they knew he talked all this shit on skaters and Nev’s got 360 flips on lock so it was just like: ‘go for it!’ It could have gone just as bad I reckon… He could have primo-ed or something.
But then the clip probably would have never gotten out there and gone viral…
Kev would have posted it either way actually. That was cool man. Nev still gets people coming in everyday asking about it.
OK here’s a topic: Sean Lomax and his hard drives… Expand on this:
Ah quite often you’ll film a trick and sometimes… Ah I shouldn’t even say this man! Well he’s lost a few tricks for sure. He’s so on it, don’t get me wrong, but I dunno he just has bad luck. His shit will get stolen or his super-tech hard drive that he’s bought with a million terabytes or whatever will just die.
I remember when his laptop got stolen in Sarajevo he said the reason he didn’t back up the footage is because you had his extra hard drive at the time.
That sounds about right. You know what the worst thing is, it’s only happened two or three times, but people always try and be really thoughtful and ask him about his computer and stuff but really they are just thinking about that backtail they filmed! (Laughs) Like ‘really, really sorry to heard about your hard drive… What happened to that backtail we filmed?’ But yeah some of the photos we shot for this, he thought he’d lost them.
But he recovered them?
Yeah, I think he had backed them up this time.
So not just footage…
Yeah photos get lost as well! I don’t want to make this into a big topic… This doesn’t happen all the time.
You’ve recently taken the reins at Landscape Skateboards doing the social media, marketing, etc. How did this come about?
Fos just asked me to be team manager and help out a bit more. It’s been cool, I think Snowy (Daniel Kinloch) got a bit busy and they needed someone that was a bit more keen for it. Yeah I enjoy it man.
I’ve said it before, and I’m not the only one, but many consider you to be the hardest working man in UK skateboarding. You are constantly out getting footage and when you are not skating you are filming others, plus you do skate edits, music videos, you work at Note, plus the Landscape marketing… How do you fit it all in?
I don’t! I guess I’m pretty lucky in regards to that I get a bit of money from skating so I don’t have to work as much as other people. I can work at the shop just two days and it’s OK, but also I can’t skate hard and film all week. I can skate for like three days, film some shit, then I’m sore, but I’ll still go out skating and bring my camera to film others. I just enjoy it. I love it, but there’s just not enough time in the day man!
In addition to Landscape, I remember you doing a lot with The Harmony doing edits, promoting, organising trips, etc… Have you ever thought of just starting your own brand instead of doing all this work for companies that aren’t yours?
I have thought about it, but I actually think the market is flooded and no new companies need to start. We already have a lot of skate companies. What I really do believe is that people need to look after the companies we’ve already got… Companies that have put a lot into UK skateboarding; companies that have built up skaters and put out videos, make people pro and pay people… They’re the people that need support, not necessarily this new cool company that’s about for a couple weeks… It just makes it harder for the other companies that are really trying to do something proper and have been for years. It’s like right now I would rather put all my effort into Landscape and try to help it. If maybe that doesn’t work then I could maybe think about that. But it’s the same with The Harmony, I feel the same: why start a new company? The Harmony is rad! Let’s just try and make it the best it can be. And I’m not saying as well… People sort of expect so much now from companies because of things like Palace or whatever…
Palace is a bit of an anomaly though…
Yeah, it’s crazy. I just want it to be a skate company that does stuff proper. But you know before all that (Palace) skate companies put out your boards or whatever, maybe they have a couple or three pros that get paid and it’s all proper. Now there’s just too many (companies).
Yeah it’s a lot harder for people to sell boards when there are so many options.
Yeah and I’m not gonna lie my company would just be another one of them. You know what I mean?
Yeah. So what keeps you in Manchester? Have you ever had the urge to move to London like so many of this island’s other skateboarders?
It was on the cards a few years ago, I was gonna, but it never really happened. I’ve never really been too keen to be honest. I actually really enjoy just coming to London to chill for the weekend and that seems more manageable for me. I think it would get to me if I lived here. London’s totally different than Manchester. I’m just a Manchester lad: I got my friends and stuff there… I just like it. Born in the North – die in the North! (Laughs)
Can you tell us a little bit about Urbis? How important do you think it is for a scene to have a free skate-able space like Urbis that isn’t a skatepark?
I think it’s massively important. For my generation, I grew up skating a street spot. I could do switch heels before I could drop in. It’s really important for that type of skating… If you just got a ledge and a manual pad in front of you, you are going to grow up skating manny pads and ledges. It’s always going to progress that side of skating. If you grow up skating transition, but you live in the city, it doesn’t really make sense in a way. You only have that one skatepark to go to. Just learn how to skate everything in your city. I guess Urbis or places like it gives kids a place to chill and hangout.
Yeah I’ve always preferred hanging out at a spot rather than a skatepark. There’s more interaction at a street spot and I think that’s healthy in growing up.
Yeah definitely. It teaches kids so much more than a skatepark could ever do — just about being streetwise and looking after yourself and your friends as well.
Do you ever find yourself at Urbis or somewhere similar kind of telling kids to be careful and not hit people’s ankles with their boards?
Yeah I’ve definitely given the helping hand. When you’re a little kid you don’t know… You are just charging or whatever so you need the older skaters to guide you or chaperone in a way.
Dom Henry said to ask you about what is the ethos of the Vibeseekers gang?
Nice, yeah Dom! The ethos is seeking the vibe – just seek it out! If it’s raining, it’s the worst day ever, but you have one dude that’s keen to skate, just get on the bikes and make it happen. Whatever happens you know what I mean? Mainly Vibeseekers is about finding really bad skateparks all around the little towns in Manchester and skating them all. There are loads of shit little council parks and we just ride our bikes to them like we are in The Goonies or something. I’m making a little video soon. It’ll be our third video.
What are your other interests outside of skateboarding? Aren’t you into Graffiti?
Yeah yeah… Well no, not at all! I do a lot of painting, but mainly when I’m hurt. My friends that paint always say ‘Joe only paints when he’s rolled his ankle!’ (Laughs)
You’ve bridged the gap between many different generations of Manchester skateboarding scenes. How have you seen the Manchester scene change and grow over the years?
Ah man it’s just so positive now. It was a different place when I was younger; it was way more gnarly. But right now it is so rad… Honestly I can’t say enough. All like Keanu (Robson), Leo (McDonald), Jacob (Johnson), Jay (Stone) and Sam (Bottenberg) and stuff are just the raddest dudes. They got their own zines, they are making videos, they are going all around the country, and they’re welcoming people…
And do you think you have inspired some of the younger guys?
Maybe, I dunno. I guess. It’s not just me; it’s other people. It’s a pretty productive place Manchester.
Yeah why do you think that is? There is so much coming out of there (Manchester)?
I reckon because it’s smaller so we are all kind of together. There’s no beef; everyone is all good man. People are constantly working on something. It’s funny because it’s the rainiest town in England, it’s constantly wet, but recently I’ve just given up on giving up. I just go skating. ‘Rain or shine I’ll see you at the spot.’ And we get there and it’s wet as fuck, but we go and find some shit. That’s what I’m saying, Vibeseekers man! Nine times out of ten it’ll dry up and you could have just been sat at home staring out the window.
That’s a good attitude to have.
Yeah you have to just go for it. But sometimes people are like: ‘Are you fucking mad?’
So what’s next for Joe Gavin?
Working on the Landscape video, just trying to do some stuff with that…
And have you helped film that?
Sean (Lomax) has been helping us, some guys in London… Henry (Edwards-Wood) has been helping. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but yeah, it’s the only logistical way of doing it. We are like a working lads club. Everyone has to work so it’s a group effort really to make it happen. I’ve kind of taken a step back from filming myself. I just want to really make the most of skating. Since breaking my arm and shit it’s made me realise that I just love it so much. And when it’s taken away you really just want to do it. I just need to make the most of it.
Anyone you want to thank?
Thanks to Carhartt WIP, Nike SB, Landscape Skateboards, Hélas, Spitfire and Thunder, Laura my girlfriend, Splodge, and Fos. Also thanks to Reece, Sam and Sean for shooting photos and all the crew! Vibeseekers!