11-year-old Alex Dyer started skating with his older brother Leighton in 1987 in Newbury, England. ‘And yeah honestly from there, I’m not being a dick, but apart from injuries I’ve never not skated for a week since then,’ said Alex. Who is Alex Dyer you might be asking yourself? Well perhaps you might know him from his @365flip Instagram account where at age 41 Alex did a 360 flip every day of the year in 2017. Still not ringing a bell? Well OK you might not know the name Alex Dyer but he and his brother are the guys that started Muckmouth: the New Zealand skate mag, turned web forum, turned website with one of the best Instagram accounts out.
How did two brothers from Newbury, England end up starting a skate magazine all the way in New Zealand? In an effort to answer this question and more, Arthur and myself arranged to meet Alex one hot July London afternoon for a chat and some lunch. After almost two decades of living in Auckland Alex has just moved back to the UK (the reasons for this we’ll get into later). We arrived at the restaurant first, picked a table outside and waited for Alex. Five minutes later Alex skates up in desert camo shorts, XL tee and Nike trainers on his 7.75 Muckmouth deck, Venture lows and 50mm wheels… ‘Same setup since 1996!’ After a brief discussion about his proclivity for skating in non-skate shoes (‘Jordan 4s are the absolute best’ in his opinion) the lunchtime beers arrive and we dive into the interview…
Will Harmon: Ok Alex why did you decide to move to New Zealand? How did this come about?
Alex Dyer: Ok so a quick bit first… So in 1995 my brother Leighton went on an around the world trip and visited my dad who had just moved to New Zealand as our parents had split up. So Leighton went around the world and when he came back he was like, ‘New Zealand is actually sick! It’s warm, there’s hot girls and the skating is pretty cool there.’ And I was like, ‘Oh really? Sweet’, but I didn’t really take it in, I just thought it would be cool to go see my dad one day. So I was going to America all the time at this point. Not trying to ‘make it’ or whatever, but…
WH: You just had to be in California at that time in skateboarding’s history…
Exactly, so I was going there all the time. You know three months here, three months there… You’d get a visa waiver for 90 days and I had good friends there, so it was a pretty good set-up. But one time I fucked it, I was an idiot… So I went to the travel agent and they said ‘oh yeah three months, blah blah blah, you can go from this date to this date.’ So I booked from the first of the month to the first of the month three months later, but there were two months with 31 days in that, so I went for 92 days.
WH: So that was two days over…
Yeah unbeknownst to me… I didn’t know I was being a dick. If I had wanted to overstay, I would have overstayed longer. And I was actually skint from two weeks before that so I would have loved to go home. I was living off Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins for a couple of weeks. So I leave the States and there’s no problem, but then the next time I go back they just go ‘oh were you here in 1996?’ And I was like ‘yeah man, Trilogy came out then…’ And then they were like ‘come with us…’ so I get locked in this cell in LAX for 17 hours and I go mental in there, but I knew I wasn’t going to get out at that point so they explained what happened and I explained from my end what happened. I said to them, ‘I’ll sign a piece of paper, and if I don’t leave in 90 days you can kill me. I will sign that.’ And they said ‘well we can’t accept that’ obviously, ha ha. But anyways they didn’t let me in, but after that I was going to visit New Zealand for a little second. The plan was three months in the States, then on to NZ. So they said: ‘Do you want to go back to England or on to New Zealand?’ So I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to NZ.’ So I called my dad and told him I was coming and I’d land at the airport at 6am in a day’s time or whatever. And so I went there and weirdly this weird chain of events happened where five of my good friends from England all were in Auckland within a month. We all congregated there, it was mental.
Yeah, so the day I got there I said to my dad ‘drop me anywhere you’ve seen a skateboarder’, so he dropped me in Aotea Square, the main square of Auckland. And this was at seven in the morning like ‘what the fuck am I doing?’ He had to go to work; he didn’t give a shit. So I just skated there on my own and eventually I meet these two guys Paul Evans and Rupert Taylor. And because I could do a couple tricks or whatever they came and talked to me. You know that’s just the world of skateboarding. So I made friends with them and they were like ‘what are you doing tonight?’ And I was like ‘I don’t know, I only know you two. You’re my whole world right now!’ And so Rupert said he had a party to go to and I was like ‘aight sweet I’ll go.’ And I had pair of skate shoes on, the Axion Guy Mariano’s, the blue, white and yellows and I swapped them with Paul for these ridiculous basketball shoes, because I just didn’t feel comfortable in skate shoes.
WH: You couldn’t go to a party in skate shoes?
Nah! So I swapped the shoes and Rupert and I went to that party, got pissed and I woke up there, and I ended up staying at that house for six months.
Arthur Derrien: No way!
So I didn’t even speak to my dad for three weeks. You know since he picked me up from the airport.
WH: Was he stressed?
Yeah so I called him and I started talking to him and he’s like, ‘Where the fuck have you been?’ And I was like, ‘Aw I’ve just been staying at Amy’s…’
WH: You didn’t think to call your dad the next day after the party?
Nah I didn’t even think about it because I was like ‘this is brilliant!’
WH: So how did everyone react to you? An English guy just coming over to NZ…
I was a novelty. I was at this party, and I lost my board or focused it or something and I woke up in between two girls and I just thought: ‘this is amazing. This country’s brilliant!’ Obviously it’s not like that every day you’re there, but if that happens on your first day it does give you a pretty good impression. And there it was good because you could stay for six months instead of the 90 days in the US.
WH: So when was this?
This was in ’98.
WH: So how did Leighton get there too?
Well Leighton was on a trip already and we had planned this… I was going to go to California for three months and then meet him in NZ for a bit. So I think he sped up his trip or something… It’s so loose there: you could just pop over to Australia and get another six months when you came back… We would leave and come back and basically for a long time I went back and forth from England to New Zealand for eight years. Technically you could only stay in NZ for six months of a year, but it would always take me a little while to save back up again.
WH: So finally did you just get citizenship?
I made up some qualifications, got this lawyer and to make a long story short: I got a work permit then residency. I have New Zealand and British passports now. It took awhile and it was a nightmare… There was a period I couldn’t leave the country for a year. They had taken my passport to do it and I wasn’t allowed to work. So they (NZ government) forced me into crime. What other options do you have to make money?
Yeah obviously I was busking, ha ha. So it was like, ‘I’m not even a good drug dealer, but I just got no choice here.’
WH: And Leighton?
He went through the motions too with permits and jobs and then got residency. Basically he didn’t need a lawyer due to his actual skills/real job.
WH: Ok so let’s cut to the chase: How/why did you guys start Muckmouth?
OK so a little micro backstory here… We were really obsessed with World Industries companies. After 1990 I only rode World, 101, Blind, whatever… It got to the point where we had a shop in Newbury where we grew up called Benz, our friend Ben’s dad owned it. And he was really close with New Deal, and I love Steve Douglas, he’s a good friend, but we just wanted World boards. So he (Ben’s dad) got some World boards in and he got the Randy Colvin naked woman board in and he got complaints. So he said ‘I’m never getting them in again!’ So we didn’t go to our local shop and we’d travel 45 minutes to another shop to get World boards.
So even though by 1998 World was long gone, as far as being cool goes…
WH: …you still wanted something like that.
Yeah and I was really into Big Brother and I was into writing so I wanted to do something. Leighton was working at an advertising agency in Auckland doing graphic design stuff and I told him I wanted to make a magazine like Big Brother and do that here, because it doesn’t exist. So I’d go to Leighton’s work, because there was a bar in there so we could nick booze on Saturdays, and I asked him if he knew how to put together a magazine. And he said he did, he didn’t know how to print it, but he could put it together. So I said, ‘OK I can write stuff and come up with ideas and you can put the pictures in and we can put it together right?’ He said, ‘technically yes,’ so we did it. The first issue I think was only 1000 copies. So that’s how Muckmouth started, as a magazine in 1999. I think maybe we had one advert in it from I don’t know who, just the skate shop I think. We did crime to fund it basically.
OK so a semi-backstory to that: when Leighton first came over he entered this mini-ramp contest. And there was this kid Matt Hall who was the local mini-ramp champ. Leighton beat him. And it turns out as well as being the local mini-ramp champ he was also a massive gangster. He wanted to kill Leighton at first, but then they became friends. We’re still friends with Matt to this day; he’s like the best, but the most ruthless, ridiculous person. He had the worst criminal record in New Zealand for anyone under 18 ever. So between him and all his friends they were always stealing stuff and doing whatever and we needed money. We weren’t doing proper crime, but we just turned into middlemen for their shitty old laptops and stuff. ‘Oh Leighton works in an advertising agency of course someone wants a shitty new MacBook or whatever…’ And they would be like ‘well we’ve got 18 of them.’ So we’d get 300 dollars just for passing it over. And stupidly… You know how Big Brother would change the format every issue?
And I wasn’t copying them, but they inspired me. So we changed the name every issue.
WH: I saw that on your website!
Yeah it was so dumb, but it was also cool ‘cause it was always A5 size. So we did that and after about issue four we started to get a few ads and we were making a bit of cash, no sorry we didn’t ever make any cash, but we didn’t have to steal as much.
But we always gave it away; you never had to pay for the magazine. We gave it to coffee shops, cool bars, skate shops…
AD: Way ahead of the game with that one.
I’m not gonna say it, but we invented Vice, ha ha. And honestly it was sick; it was pretty fucking popular. Kids would write in letters… So we ended up doing ten issues… It was quite a struggle you know.
AD: So was it just you and your brother?
At the start it was me, Leighton and Darren. Darren Howman was another one from Reading as well. He was another one of the five that came over back then.
WH: So what did the NZ skaters think about these three English guys coming over and starting a magazine?
There was varying feedback. I don’t really know, well I do… People liked us, but some were like, ‘What the fuck are these guys doing?’
WH: Well I’m sure you guys did shake things up. I mean your mag was no holds barred, say what the hell you want…
So I can’t really speak on what people thought, but people didn’t hate it. But then we had that same problem that a lot of people have where distributors would be like ‘oh we’d love to advertise, but we want you to tone it down.’ And I’m like ‘well the only reason people liked it, is because we toned it up! So no, I’m not going to do that.’ And I’ve never been that person you know. ‘Last issue you had a pair of tits in it!’ And I’m like ‘of course it did! We love tits!’ And we’d swear in there and do drugs reviews and booze reviews… It’s good; it’s funny.
WH: It’s a snapshot of that time in your life as well.
Absolutely. And also if you want to advertise in it, you obviously like what you’re seeing, you’re just scared that you don’t want to put your brand next to it. So we had that battle for a long time. We went for 2-3 years making the mag I think. And then by issue 10 it was like… It was a struggle. We got to ten and then the Internet started coming in.
AD: It’s kinda good to end it on a high note as well…
WH: OK so what is behind the name?
OK so Ben, who had the skate shop Benz, he was two years younger than me. I was 11 and he was nine. But when he got a little bit older he got a porno mag and he brought it out and it brought the word ‘muck’ into the equation and it just meant spunk. ‘Ah you know I mucked all over her face’ or something and we just found it so funny. So we’d just run with it for ages. Long story short: when I was about 12, early doors in life, I had a wank in the bath and the spunk landed in my mouth. So we called it ‘muckmouth’.
(Everyone breaks out laughing)
I was like ‘oh my god, oh my god, this is terrible!’ So then we’d say it ‘muck mouth, muckmouth’ and it sort of made sense because the mag had a lot of swearing in it, like a mucky mouth. So I could explain to a granny or something like ‘it is just guys with a dirty mouth’, but the true story is the wank in the bath.
WH: Ha ha! OK I wanted to ask about some of the articles you had in the mag… There was one where it was a competition about you and your brother getting dates?
AD: The BA one…
WH. There’s a Stephen Merchant interview and one with the Lo-Lifes…
Those interviews were all real as well… Well the BA one wasn’t, ha ha.
WH: So you just called up Stephen Merchant?
We had a friend who worked as a producer on The Office and so we were obsessed with it so we did a little interview with him, but he wasn’t that interesting.
WH: And what about the Lo-Lifes?
So you know how we said we were friends with the gangsters? So Matt’s best friend Luke was living in New York at the time, and he’s got a better Polo collection than Rack Lo, and so he had made friends with them over there obviously – so he did the interview with those guys. We just had an outlet that not many others had, this was before the Internet was what it is now, so people would be like, ‘Can we put this in here?’ – ‘Fuck yeah of course you can! This is what I want.’ Obviously we turned down some shit, but we were in a world where people were doing shit so shit just came. We interviewed that porn star Kyla Cole…
AD: Did people see it in America and stuff?
At our peak we’d make about 8000 copies. We’d send some over to some places in America. We sent them to shops we knew and whatever, but I’m not really sure… Sometimes we’d get a letter from someone or an email, so people saw it. In New Zealand definitely it was big.
WH: And then after you ended the mag (around 2003 sometime) I heard you guys had a pretty popular web forum…
A friend of mine that was a real nerd had a drum and bass forum where they all talked about beats or whatever, so he was like ‘all these people are into your magazine, you should put this on the Internet!’ I was on some Super Hans shit: ‘ah I dunno, the Internet’s never gonna catch on…’ ha ha. But I was like ‘put it together if you want.’ So he put this forum together and it just fucking popped off… Mainly within New Zealand, but there were thousands and thousands of users, it was before Facebook and stuff so it was a place people would go every day. I think there are 100,000 posts on it still.
AD: Is it still going?
No, but it’s still there and you can still look at it. There was a skate element to it, but it was mainly just all types of people. There were girls… Lots of people got their first fuck on the forum. There was a graffiti thread on there, and I didn’t know anything about graffiti, but it was a world famous graffiti hangout. And then also parties started coming from it. So there were so many events that we did through it: we had two bikini contests, skate comps, we did ‘Santarchy’ – look that up. It was 130 people dressed as Santa running around Auckland getting pissed.
WH: Oh yeah they do it here: SantaCon.
Yeah we did it there and it was nuts… David Letterman even talked about it because ours really popped off. You can look it up… That’s the only thing, if you look up my name on Google it comes up as that (Santarchy). And it says I’m against the commercialisation of Christmas, but that’s not true. I fucking love Christmas! The forum was really big for a few years.
WH: And then the website came after?
I can’t remember the year, but forums were dying out and Facebook became a thing, so I said to Leighton: ‘How can we make it so we can do interviews with people and do that sort of shit?’ And everything happens through drinking or whatever, but I met this guy Squid, who was this cool pissed-up, drugged-up lad, but it turns out he was a fucking genius at designing shit and creating websites. So he kind of made our site the way it is now. So now I could interview someone and have a place for it to go as there was no more magazine or forum. So I started to do some interviews and articles or whatever and was mainly all old World skaters and nineties dudes, guys that I’m interested in. I’ve got more in the pipeline too… I’m actually interviewing Chris Branagh; remember him?
WH: Yeah! The youngest pro skater. That leads me into the ‘back in the spotlight’ interviews. A) How did you contact all these dudes? And B) Who was the hardest to track down?
Yeah so I wanted to talk to people that were famous at some point and then they weren’t anymore. And I thought they’d actually love it as they were in the spotlight, but now they’re not. So I just stalked them out; Facebook was good for that and also there was Instagram and other ways. So it got to like 118 people I think it was, with those same three questions each time. And since that was four years ago I think it’s time now to do more because some people will have fallen off within that time. But yeah those back in the spotlights went down really well.
WH: And then some of them turned into longer interviews as well right? Like Jed Walters, Dan Peterka?
Some of the people I did back in the spotlight interviews with I thought ‘fuck I could do a real interview…’, but I just wanted to keep that going for that period and it was easy because it was just: send them the three questions and get it back. And sometimes it’s funny when they say just ‘no’ and ‘yes’, like Lavar (McBride). He gave one-word answers to each. Josh Beagle, of Foundation just said ‘fuck off’. So before that I had done proper interviews with Shiloh (Greathouse) and Kareem (Campbell) talking about his pager line. But Jed Walters was fucking hard. There was nothing about him online. So Mackenzie Eisenhour did an article about Jed in about 2002, but just about how he existed. So I had this job working for a casino company and weirdly they were paying me through the nose to do literally nothing. So I had to just sit in front of a computer with fast Internet and look busy. So I decided to try and find this guy. I’m searching and searching and then I find something, because I knew he was from North Dakota or South Dakota or something… And then there’s one Jed Walters on a gardening forum. So there was a guy on there from South Dakota called Jed Walters and he was talking about being an alcoholic, blah blah blah… I thought ‘this is depressing’ but I looked at his picture and it was tiny, but I zoomed in and thought ‘it could be?’ So I joined the gardening forum…
WH: No way! Ha ha…
Yeah I joined it and I had to make three posts before I could private message someone so I had to make some posts like ‘Eh how big is your lawnmower?’ I dunno, and then I send him this message: ‘Are you Jed Walters that was on World Industries?’ And he was just like ‘uh, fuck… yes, why?’ I was like ‘Jesus… I got him!’
WH: That is incredible!
And then it took so long building it up. What is it called when paedos train little kids?
WH: Groom them…
Yeah, I had to really groom him.
Yeah but I got him in the end and he was real nervous like, ‘Why would anyone care about me?’ I told him his name gets brought up all the time, on Instagram. ‘I don’t know what Instagram is,’ he said. ‘Just look on the internet mate!’ Anyway so I got him and he wrote nice answers and it was a good interview. He was real happy and stoked on it and I reconnected him with a lot of his old homies.
WH: Well it was sick that you got Kareem, Shiloh and Daewon to say something about Jed…
And then a lot of them were like ‘ah you found him! What’s his number?’ So asked Jed if he minded that I gave out is number and he was fine with it. So now he’s back friends with them again.
AD: That’s sick… You helped the dude out.
Yeah he’s in South Dakota doing gardening or whatever but now he’s talking to Shiloh again. So I actually felt good about that.
WH: So was anyone else that hard to get a hold of?
Well Kareem wasn’t hard to track down, but like just getting a few things out of him that no one else had got like him talking about what was on his pager when he checked it during that line and the hundred bucks when he does the kicky fakie in New World Order. I said, ‘Did you get the $100?’ and he said, ‘Yes sir and I bought a bag of weed!’ It’s cool, it’s not going to change the world but I was psyched on it and I’m sure some other nerds liked it. That guy can skate man. His Instagram persona now though…
WH: I don’t like to follow some of my childhood heroes on Insta because it takes away the mystique.
I don’t follow anyone on my personal account that I don’t know right… So in my normal life when I’m scrolling though I’m like ‘everything’s fine’. And then on the @muckmouth account I do follow pros and that and I’m like ‘oh god this is fucking crazy!’ because it’s so horrible. They say never meet your heroes and it’s fucking true: they’re all fucked. You do meet the odd person that’s good…
And on that note, I did meet (Steve) Rocco, who is my genuine hero. We are in the very long midst of interviewing him. We’re text buddies, which is cool. I’m more psyched on that than anything. He came to Auckland weirdly where I was at the time, and so he texted me: ‘Are you in Auckland?’ And I thought ‘you’re in Auckland… What the fuck!’ So when he emailed me before he gave me his number and I saved it instantly. So I get this text and honestly… Imagine if a fit girl texts you for the first time, I was so nervous! ‘I’m not even gonna open it; what’s it gonna be?’ And so he was like, ‘Are you in Auckland? I’m at the Hilton. Do you wanna do something today?’ Yes! I dropped everything. I told my misses at the time ‘I’m going out. It’s this a 50-year-old man I’m going to meet.’ And she’s like, ‘Why do you care about this?’ I said: ‘I’ll explain later on.’ It was amazing… It was almost like I was on World in ’94; he took me to the casino and gave me $2000.
AD: No way!
Yeah and he had about eight grand he’s like ‘just bet on whatever you want.’
‘Of course I will’ I was thinking, but at the same time this is a month and half’s rent! Oh god, put that on black!
AD: Did you lose all of it?
All of it. I had to! I was steaming the whole time and I got up to four grand and he’d lost all of his, so I was like ‘here you go Steve, here’s two Gs!’
WH: Oh so you gave him his money back…
Yeah and then I lost mine and he lost his; it was all just sick. I was like ‘fuck it’, I’m not gonna be tight in front of this fellow. This is what I wanted to be in ‘94 and I’m just doing it now.
WH: So sick.
And the whole time I was just probing him like ‘tell me about the car in Video Days…’ He was so psyched on being in the casino.
WH: I guess he’s still loaded then.
He’s a millionaire; he’s so rich. So we saw him in LA, he lives in Malibu obviously and I asked him what he does. ‘I drop my daughter off at school, surf every day and then pick my daughter up from school.’ So I asked him who he hung out with… Of course his best mate is Kelly Slater, the best surfer in the world. And also he hangs out with Damon Way. They are like the three best mates.
WH: OK, I’m gonna change the convo up and ask about how on your guys’ Instagram you put up a trick and describe the trick name in great detail. And this creates all these arguments from the younger skaters… Why did you guys decide to this? What were some of the biggest arguments, etc.?
This is my favourite question so far! I didn’t decide to do this; I’ve never changed from when I learnt in ’87 right and so I’m stubborn and probably also a pedantic prick when it comes to this stuff. There’s one thing I know: I fucking know about skateboarding tricks and even if I can’t do them I know what they are. I could commentate any contest, apart from vert, because I’m a little sketchy on some of the handplants, but every other transition trick, I’ve got it covered, every street trick, whatever. My brother and I both know and of course we do, everyone does… But it turns out not everyone does. I actually have an article in the pipeline, but the reason I’ve held it off is because I felt a bit too preachy about it. It’s about frontside and backside, because you know how people are like: ‘Well if that’s a backside nollie flip and that’s a frontside halfcab flip, why do they look the same?’ Fuck me! Do I have to break down everything?!
WH: This is like the whole argument about Austyn Gillette’s halfcab flip on the LA High bank.
That’s the one that made me laugh the most, because to me there’s no question about that. And people are like ‘well he’s carving up…’ Ok well it’s a shit halfcab flip because he’s carving. If it’s a fakie flip, you’re going up fakie you do a fakie kickflip and you come down forwards. That’s just a fakie flip. And I hate being preachy…
AD: Well you do kinda enjoy it…
Yeah well I don’t wanna come across as an old… Well I am old, but I don’t wanna be that old man going ‘you kids don’t know!’ because I’m not that, but, at the same time ‘you kids don’t know.’
Leighton and me never talk about what we post right, because we both have known each other for so long. The only thing I’ve had to tell him ever is don’t respond to people. Because in my mind when you look at Thrasher or Transworld or whatever mag as a little kid, and you read it at home like: ‘fuck off that’s not a Madonna!’ The editor doesn’t hear me say it and so he doesn’t get to respond. If I put it out, I’m not going to respond, unless someone says something really nice like ‘aw fuck I really love this place, I wanna go there…’ I might respond to that.
WH: So the Gillette one you guys never responded?
Leighton would respond from his other account, I said ‘if you have to, but don’t respond from us.’ I’ll respond by doing another post kind of mocking those thousand people who disagreed. That one actually made me feel like I had a head injury. To the point like, ‘What is it you don’t understand about this?’
AD: What you’ve described from the whole experience of Muckmouth it seems like it’s always been completely independent, you guys do whatever you want, say whatever you want and on all these articles no one is stopping you… But then there’s the (Josh) Swindell interview that’s not on the website anymore. What happened there?
OK so we did that interview and it fucking popped off. I was very happy with that interview. I knew people would give a fuck, because I gave a fuck and I’ve never missed a beat, I’ve read all the skate media from ’87 on, well maybe the last five years it’s impossible, but I knew about Josh Swindell and his interviews in Big Brother, blah blah blah, and so I decided to stalk him out, same thing. And I found him and I knew he’d just gotten out (from jail) and I had to groom him as well. He’s a very nice, chilled man, but he didn’t want to tell his story to anyone, but shit snowballs, as you know… If you’ve got a Kareem interview, a Shiloh interview and shit like that people are like: ‘oh, they’re a thing’. Once you have those couple interviews people start to trust you a bit more. So after a bit of back and forth I get it going and I tell him: ‘Look, I’m gonna prepare you, I’ll ask you about being on Think and skating and stuff, but the main thing I’m gonna ask you about is killing someone, because that’s a big fucking deal.’ And he was well sound and when I got it, I remember the morning when I woke up and got the reply, because that one I sent him the question and he took his time over a week or something and just responded. So when it came in I was like ‘fucking hell!’ and then he sent footage of himself skating again and this and that. OK then I put it out, it pops off and then he’s messaging me about it… He said I had to change one thing and I did, publicly. Because he said something about Danny Way having a fight with someone, and he said ‘Danny pissed his pants and then we had to beat the guy up.’ And then there were all these comments like ‘ah Danny Way pissed himself ohhh!’ And then he messaged me and clarified that he didn’t mean ‘pissed his pants’, but he was scared. So I changed it. And then there was a three page thing on Slap (forum) about ‘ah I can’t believe you… Your journalistic integrity!’ No! My journalistic integrity is safe because I did change it, because he didn’t actually piss himself…
WH: Yeah of course.
So that all happened and it was up for about three years and everyone had seen it and that, then we did a shoe with DC. And that shoe had come out already (a Muckmouth collaboration with the Josh Kalis shoe) and one morning I woke up, I had just lost my job at the casino, and I get a phone call from some 001 number. And it was someone big at DC, and he was nice, but he said, ‘Danny’s son has just read the interview and he’s really sad about it, blah blah blah…’ And I said: ‘What do you want me to do?’ Then he said, ‘We’d prefer if you didn’t have it up.’ The interview doesn’t implicate him (Danny Way) in anything it just says Danny hadn’t been very nice to him afterwards – that’s just two friends having beef, whatever. So I said, ‘Leave it with me, but I’m not going to say anything right now.’ So I had dramas with my job (losing it) at the time and I called ten people that I trusted the most and just said: ‘What would you do in this situation?’ And the shoe we did had just come out and don’t get me wrong I’m not a sell-out in any way, I’ll just tell people to fuck off. But it had already been up for three years and nine out of the ten people said to me take the path of least resistance, because you might do something else with them and there’s so many people on there…
WH: Everyone’s read it anyways and screenshots can very easily still be found on the Internet.
So my first reaction was ‘no, I’m not taking it down. No way!’ But after talking to all those ten friends, four of whom didn’t skate, I reluctantly put it on private. So that’s where it is, but I still hate myself for it. It niggles me.
WH: Tough decision.
I’m friends with Josh Kalis now; I don’t want to fuck these people off. I don’t want to fuck the company up.
AD: And you don’t know what the future will bring and you don’t want to burn bridges…
Yeah but at the same time… I don’t want to burn bridges, but I do want to tell the truth. I want to say what the fuck I want.
AD: Well you guys are probably the best example of the free press in skateboarding.
Well like I said that’s the one time we had to pull something and I’m still not happy about it. I just want to reiterate that it killed me.
AD: Obviously you don’t really have advertisers, but do you have any other brands that message you saying ‘what the fuck are you saying here?’
WH: Like that line about Tom Penny on your website: ‘Tom was expelled from school after stealing some canoes from Oxford University, as he went on to become the greatest skater in the world and fantastically wealthy (despite never really filming a proper part) this wasn’t much of a punishment. Years later however, he was suitably punished by the universe by becoming sponsored by Supra and is now forced to wear canoes on his feet.’
AD: So basically do you ever get emails or blowback from stuff like that?
Um, no not really.
AD: So this model can work.
It definitely can work. But like I said we never made money from Muckmouth, and don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do what I do anyway and make some money, but I’ve always never given a fuck about what people are gonna think about what I write or do. Ever since when we started in ’99 I’ve never ever thought ‘oh I better not write this because of so and so’ whatever, which most people probably have that in their mind. When I do my actual job, writing adverts and that for clients, if I write about baked beans I can’t just go ‘fucking beans are delicious. Put them on toast it’s brilliant’ you know? So that’s what makes it (Muckmouth) fun for me to do.
AD: That’s what makes it so valuable for our culture.
WH: Well it elevates it from message boards and just social media comments, it’s like these guys are saying it and they’re big, they have a big following and people know you…
AD: …they’re respected. They did the Swindell interview and interviewed Kareem you know? They can call out what they want.
AD: You guys aren’t making money, but also your ass isn’t on the line. We need more Muckmouths.
Yeah that’s exactly right if you don’t have that and you’re not doing that then skateboarding as a whole is covering up racists and homophobes and shit.
AD: That leads me to something else: At what point do you draw the line? At what point do you stop being accountable for stuff you did/said decades ago? Like some of the stuff in your printed magazine I’m sure could be seen as misogynistic.
Of course it is; it’s not something I would do now.
AD: So should you be crucified for that thing you did when you were younger? I guess the thing with shaming on the Internet is that it never stops.
Yeah so my take on that is yeah, some of the things we said in the early Muckmouth mags we were ruthless and we weren’t thinking, but also there was no malice in anything I ever said. I never ever, since I’ve been born, been racist or anything, because my mum is a cool bitch. I can call my mum a bitch, because that’s how cool she is, she would get that. She brought us up to be cool as fuck. I’ve said some awful things, but my take on it is if you say things in jest and you obviously have no malice in what you’re saying and it’s a joke, then it’s not a big thing. I don’t have a malicious bone in my body; well I do towards people who skate with bad style, ha ha… But I don’t give a fuck who you fuck or who you turn into – none of that means anything. Having a laugh is the most important thing to me. If shit’s funny and you can entertain people… And not everything I do entertains people, it doesn’t – sometimes shit gets boring or whatever…
WH: Well kids get pretty angry when you call a trick the right name!
That entertains me, but fucking hell! Kids get really wound up about that.
WH: Ok so last question: Why did you decide to move back to the UK?
So it was three-prong attack. I had this weird chain of events where I broke up with my missus, lost my job and… wait, the bad thing happened in the middle. OK, so I woke up one morning, and I lived right in Auckland City, pretty much as central as you can get, and I live right off the street so you could always hear people doing shit outside. So I was having a shower one morning and I heard this shit going on outside, so I popped my head out, and even though I couldn’t see anything, it was so loud. And I don’t know why I looked out, but as I did I saw a bloke standing there in my bedroom just looking at me. And I’m like ‘alright, alright…’ I’m obviously naked as I’m in the shower. And I’m like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘calm down’.
WH: ‘Don’t tell me to calm down!’
That’s what I’d usually think in a normal situation, but when you’re naked on a Monday morning… I’m like ‘you’ve won this!’ He’d taken all the power from me; I didn’t know what to do. ‘You’re just there, some crazy dude, and I’m naked and you’ve just said “calm down” to me’. If I was robbing a house, I’d be scared if someone caught me, but not this guy. And I went to grab the towel, but it was too far back and I didn’t want to turn my back on this cunt. And he’s just like, ‘Where the fuck is Callum?’ And I’m like ‘I don’t know Callum. Who the fuck is Callum? I’m Alex, there’s my bed.There’s one bed here, is Callum gay?’
And he was like ‘no!’
‘Well then he doesn’t sleep in the bed with me does he? I’m not gay, Callum’s not gay, where the fuck does Callum sleep?’
He’s like ‘I dunno. Callum lives here.’
‘He doesn’t! I live here on my own I’m a single dude.’
And he’s just like, ‘Where’s Callum?’
And I’m like ‘stop saying “Where’s Callum” because I don’t know. It’s 7am on a Monday morning. I don’t know!’ So my bedroom is downstairs and my lounge is upstairs on ground level, so I say ‘let’s go upstairs, we’ll talk about it’ and I’m still naked and I don’t know why I do this, but when we are walking up the stairs I push him on his back just to start to speed him up. And he turns around and says, ‘Don’t fucking touch me!’
WH: You pushed him whilst you were naked!?
I know, I know, but I just wanted him out and to speed things up. So I say to him ‘I don’t know what you’re saying… It’s clear I don’t know Callum.’ I could tell he was fucking ruthless, so I’m already pretty shook, plus you know, I’m naked, and he says, ‘I’m just trying to find Callum. He’s been doing some shit in the area… selling.’ And I’m like, ‘Well as you know, I don’t know Callum’. I’m actually weirdly calm at this point, I’d had a big weekend with lots of booze, there’s a gangster in my house and I’m naked. I mean I’m pretty confident if there’s a fight in a pub, but this is the weakest I’ve ever been.
WH: I can imagine.
And so I was like, ‘You have to leave, I have to get ready for work.’
‘Just tell me where Callum is!’
‘I fucking don’t know who Callum is!’ and then we are walking towards the door and he goes ‘oh, do you skate?’ because I got all these old nineties boards on my wall – Menace boards and shit. And I was like ‘yes’, but what’s that got to do with the price of beef?
‘Ah yeah pretty cool boards you got there…’
So I asked him, ‘How the fuck did you get in anyway?’
‘Oh the door was open.’ Bollocks. And as he was walking out he goes ‘ah I did give it a helping hand’: he had a crowbar. So he leaves and whatever adrenaline I had just went out of me. So I went to work, and I came back at lunchtime and everything was fine. I went back after work and the cunt had been back, because I’d called the landlord like ‘yo, fix the door!’ but he hadn’t been there so the cunt had been back and robbed my entire house. He took all the boards, all this Muckmouth shit, these unreleased DC Muckmouth jackets that didn’t even exist yet, so there’s some cunts wearing those, then laptops, phones, everything… And I’m not being a pussy but I just didn’t feel safe in that house anymore. So I left the house that day and went to my brother’s house. I came back the next morning with one of my gangster friends that I mentioned before, because I thought he might still be there and I realised he’d taken a shower…
WH: How did you know that?
So I had gone to work, but when I came home my towel was soaking wet on the ground, and the shower was still running. Well whatever, he did something and left the shower on. The only thing he couldn’t get was my TV. I had a 65 inch TV: too big to nick. Fuck him. He took everything else though; it cost me about 20,000 dollars this whole thing. So I just took my TV, went to my brother’s house and then I lost my job two days afterwards.
AD: Fucking hell…
Missus, home invasion, job… So I was like ‘Fuck it. I’m gonna go back to England for a bit.’
WH: So this was just last year?
Yeah first week of August last year.
WH: So it was all some sort of mistaken identity?
Oh yeah sorry, so there’s a little bit more to the story. there was this bloke who lived directly above me. I knew him a bit because his shit washing machine leaked into my house a few times, but anyway, I go away on holiday and I get a message from my friend who knew him saying that he’s just been put in the boot and taken off into the forest.
‘What?!’ And he’s like a 48-year-old man and they thought he was Callum. So he gets taken off into the woods, bashed around a bit, but then he gets taken home because they realised he’s not Callum. I think he showed them ID or whatever, then he moved out of the apartment block because he’s scared as well. Then when I get back to New Zealand, I’m looking for a new place and I realise that my place, the one above and the one next door to that were all empty. And I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ Then I find out from another gangster that this other apartment – next door to the one above mine – is where Callum actually lived. What a fucking mix up! He made an error in the paperwork big time. So he just went through the whole building until he found him and now nobody knows where Callum is. He’s dead.
So they broke into my house, took the other bloke to the woods…
WH: Jeez… So how does it feel to be back in England after all these years?
It’s been sick and to be fair I was kind of missing it anyways. I had been back for holidays but only for a week or two, but I haven’t lived here for a long time. I was missing the pubs and I felt like I needed to top up my accent, ha ha.