Stevie Culhane interview

Switch varial heelflip, Barcelona.

Earlier this year Gerard Riera sent us some pics of this guy named Stevie Culhane. What did we know about him then? Not much, only that he had some serious pop, lived in Barcelona and dressed like it’s 1999. Soon Gerard updated us with even more photos and we decided that perhaps it’s worth featuring him and finding out a bit more. Well a couple years back you may or may not remember we interviewed Alex Dyer about the magazine/website/amazing Instagram account Muckmouth. It was one of the funniest and most insightful interviews we ever did and Alex became a good friend afterwards. We always said that it would be sick if Alex could spare the time from his busy schedule and do some freelance work for us… Well now is that time. We already knew the Muckmouth guys (Alex and his brother Leighton) were fans of Stevie, and his outfits look like something 44-year-old Alex wears today, so I thought they’d be a perfect match. Read on to see how it went…   — Will Harmon

Photography by Gerard Riera
Interview by Alex Dyer

Alright Stevie, I know this doesn’t sound like a great start, especially from someone conducting the interview, but the truth is, I don’t know a thing about you! With this pretty large hurdle in mind I decided to do a bit of stalking to get a few facts, rumours and anecdotes from some of your friends, the rest I will just make up as I go along… So yeah, I hear you were born in Hungary, and grew up in a caravan. What the hell was going on there?
What’s up man? Yeah, I know I’m pretty low key, but damn man you really have been digging around! Ok, so long story short, my parents were in a missionary type ONG (Non-Profit Organisation), which was comprised of groups of like-minded people living in caravans that would travel all over the world in large teams of more or less 40 caravans and or trucks with big ass circus tents for kitchen areas etc., and they’d basically travel to countries that had just suffered earthquakes or floods, set up shop and help people with food clothing and pretty much anything else in any way they could. They were actually really gnarly; I’m talking about places like Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and places, which are pretty fucking dangerous, especially back in the ‘90s!
So, on one of their journeys from Italy to Romania, my mum was really pregnant with me and whilst they were on the road her water broke close to the Hungarian Border – so that’s the reason I was born in Debrecen, Hungary.

Damn, they sound like fucking good people! So, presumably you travelled around a lot after that as well, where exactly did this caravan take you?
Well, everywhere around Europe I think, but they ended up circling around Spain a lot too. The City Halls would only let them set up the tents and ‘camp sites’ on the outskirts of the cities, and usually in not very nice areas. So most of my memories from these times are just being a little kid playing in junkyards with the local gypsy kids and being a little shit!

…and I heard something about your sister in El Salvador… Someone tried to nick her or something?
That’s a crazy story man, there are many from my parents but this one is gnarly. My parents went with this group to El Salvador in 1989 after a really bad earthquake. The thing is, it was like a straight up civil war there at the time, so it was crazy – like the military against militia with gunshots all day in the street, just real bad. So they were there trying to help the poor people with food, rebuilding stuff, etc. and the thing is my mum was nine months pregnant with my sister at the time (I always thought this was insane!). So, my sister was born in this hospital in El Salvador in the middle of the civil war. She was this beautiful little girl with white blonde hair and was the only white baby in the whole hospital. At the time in El Salvador there was a lot of child trafficking going on amongst all this chaos. So anyway, this nurse asked my mum to take my sister around the ward or something to let my mum rest a little, then a bit later none of the doctors knew who this random nurse was and everyone started panicking thinking she’d been stolen! They found this woman with my sister in the hospital and apparently she was just taking her for a walk!

Holy shit… Ok man, so I guess we should talk about skating a bit. When and where did you start, and did you somehow find skateboarding during this War Zone world tour?
I actually started skating in England, in Dawlish, a little seaside town near Exeter in around 2002. The thing is, when I was six and my sister was nine my dad started thinking that we needed a real education. We were still living in this caravan community but it was really sketchy to grow up in this vibe and my dad wanted us to have a more normal upbringing – or at least wanted us to be able to go to school! At the time they had a makeshift school set up in the back of a big truck for the kids in the group, but that can’t really compare to going to a real school you know? So he was like ‘fuck this’ and took me and my sister to England and we somehow ended up living in Dawlish. While living there, my parents bought me an Action Man skateboard from Argos on my twelfth birthday. That is literally where it all started! I want to give a shout out to my homies Felix, Dave and James and the rest of the Dawlish crew for those dope years skating with them, gotta say those few carefree years in my life are some of the most memorable!

180 up, switch ollie, Paris.

Dawlish! I met a sick crab there once, called Jimmy – maybe you know him? Me and this girl Lilka found him, then tried to put him back in the sea, but little Jimmy wanted to hang out with us instead. It was a sad goodbye.
Poor Jimmy!

Shit man, I keep getting distracted from the skate stuff as I refer back to the intel I have been sent. It says that you lived in a CAVE for a time? Surely that is a typo?!
When you say cave you think of literally a hole in the ground, but that’s not really what they’re like! They are a style of house in the Sacromonte neighbourhood in Granada. They are caves with the walls covered in a mix of calcium and cement so it’s not humid inside. Some are on actual streets and are legal houses with addresses as well as electricity and water, and others are up in the hills and people aren’t legally allowed to live in them. So yeah, I lived in this sketchy cave for ages, it was an actual house; super big and the bedrooms were caves. This guy let me live there as long as I fixed up the place while he was away, which was fine by me. It was really cool but there were a lot of really shady people living in the area so you had to be careful. My neighbours were pretty gnarly, I remember having to dig up the actual street with them to hide the power lines we had connected up to the grid underneath so we wouldn’t get caught stealing electricity.

So hold on, did you skate during this troglodyte era?
This was actually just when I had a really bad heel injury…

Ah ok, yeah it says in my notes that you didn’t skate for a few years…
So basically around 25 I was warming up on a set of stairs and I just remember catching my board on a nollie backside heel and landing with my heel off the edge of my board with all my weight on it. When I landed my heel literally exploded from the impact, it was so bad, like I fractured my heel and sprained my ankle really bad and just fucked all my shit up. It was horrible man – I couldn’t do shit for so long, like a heel bruise is bad, but imagine a fracture you know? So, after four months I could finally walk about, but skating was a no-no. It was such a fucked up situation, I just started working in a bar and tried to make the most of it… After a year I still couldn’t step on my heel because I had a bone growth over the fracture and every step would hurt. This went on for ages, and I can say honestly they were the worst years of my life. When I was 27 I just started stepping on my heel and skating even if it hurt, and slowly but surely it started getting better. Today I don’t feel the injury at all, which makes me really happy!

Sick, so, how old are you now?
I just turned 30 three months ago, man.

Switch backside tailslide, Girona.

Not to make this about me or anything, but at the ripe old age of 44, with 33 years of skating under my belt – my body is falling apart. So, in an attempt to continue to be able to ollie up curbs, I am embarrassingly getting into stretching (bit late to start now I know) like I am Salba or some shit. Do you live a healthy lifestyle, or just use the classic party-all-night-then-head-out-skating-before-the-pain-kicks-in technique?
When I started skating again I really did do a lot of yoga, stretching and a lot of exercise apart from skating, I just really wanted and needed to be able to get on my board again properly you know. Right now I feel really good because of that and I do try to carry on even though I do forget to do it half the time. If I have a long session or skate bigger stuff then I’ll try to have a good stretch afterwards and/or a couple of beers, ha ha ha.

Hell yeah, so you’re living in Barcelona now I think – what’s a typical skate day there for you?
I moved in with Blai Costa not so long ago, he’s a dope filmer, so my typical skate day right now is wake up, have breakfast with Blai and then go out on missions with him, Gerard Riera and the rest of the crew!

Sounds good man, who are some sick up-and-coming locals in Barcelona… I know everyone is amazing there, but who should I be looking out for?
Everybody really is amazing, but you know if I have to single somebody out, you gotta check out my boy Dani Jenks, homie is an animal and the best fucking guy ever!

Do you have an actual job these days or can you live off skating, or selling product like someone in California in the ’90s?
What I’ve been doing my whole life is sporadic work over a few months – to then be able to skate for a few months. For example working a few months in the vineyards or anything outdoors, it’s usually pretty physical work, but it’s like getting paid to go to the gym. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty if it means I’m going to be able to skate, do what I love and enjoy life afterwards you know? I remember working for this shop’s online store uploading product etc., and to be honest there’s nothing more soul numbing than being sat in an office all day.
Right now skate wise I’m getting a lot of help from my sponsors, I’m involved in a lot of projects and getting some economic help but not really enough to live on. I make it work doing jobs on the side though – this winter for example I’m in the south of Spain working in the olive groves! Product wise I don’t really have a habit of selling shit, I’d rather skate what I get, even though I’d be lying if I said I’d never sold some shit on the side to pay the lecky.

Switch heelflip, Barcelona.

Talking of my favourite era, aka the ’90s, you dress pretty cool and have a tight repertoire of tricks, so presumably you’re influenced by the right kind of skaters. Who do you think is sick, past and present?
I grew up watching the Lordz video on repeat. Non-stop Flo Marfaing, Alex Carolino and William Phan, who have all been huge influences for me. I guess those dudes are more from the 2000s though, guys from the ’90s, I’d have to say all Penny footage is pure gold, his extras in Menikmati still blow my mind today.

I feel you on all those guys for sure, man. They all looked dope. Shit, it’s such a relief when hideous trends like skin-tight jeans that made everyone look like they had rickets fade away – have you ever found yourself falling into bullshit fads – such as trap Insta edits/prison warden keys on the belt loop/coloured grip, etc.?
I actually had a skinny jeans phase when I was 13, after Emerica – This Is Skateboarding came out, we all wanted to skate like Reynolds did but it only lasted like a year! I’m not hating on anyone but I don’t really fuck with trap edits and coloured grip at all!

What about trick-wise, I can’t imagine you have got many dolphin flips on film…
I think there are a lot of tricks that just because you’re able to do them, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do them!

Your switch flips, switch flip switch back tails, switch backside flips, and switch 360 flips are exemplary by the way. While I am sure you can do them all regular as well, do you sometimes think that you should actually be goofy?
I guess I do skate switch a lot, but it just feels really good!

Talking of tricks, are there any super basic things that you secretly really struggle with? I always find it hilarious when someone sick can’t do pop shove-its or something.
My heelflips are really bad! Oh, and I’m terrible at skating fakie in general! I did a fakie heel down the three stair at Sants the other day, which felt amazing though, so I should really work on my fakie game!

I know we have already spoken about your busted foot, and as a rule I hate talking about injuries, but if they are funny I can make an exception. I hear you were bleeding from your arse after a switch back tail attempt – what happened with that one?
Oh my god that was so bad, I over-popped and my board went into switch backside lip. The ledge was pretty tall so I put my foot out to land on the floor and there was no floor, so my ass landed on the corner of the ledge, which was pretty sharp and my ass cheek ripped open between the ledge and my ass bone! I remember sticking my hand down my pants and my hand was covered in blood; it was so gnarly. I ripped myself a new asshole like 3cm to the left of my real asshole and had to get four stitches! It was really embarrassing and hilarious at the hospital, even the nurses where like WTF!? I went back two weeks later and got the trick though!

Switch frontside heelflip, Barcelona.

Fuck yeah. So you’re filming for the Olé video now I think? What’s happening with that – got a banging part coming together?
Yeah man, we’ve been filming for it for the past two years, travelling all over and it’s really coming together. Even through this pandemic we’ve been able to travel a little and keep getting footage. It’s coming out in 2021 at some point and I think people are going to really like it!

I guess we should talk about all the rest of your sponsors now, that way they will hopefully all get stoked and send me a box as well. Who gives you free shit?
Right now I’m skating for éS footwear, Olé skateboards, Villains, Pusher Bearings and Flake Skateshop.

Tight. So, I also heard that you make art from random crap that you find on the streets of Barca. I have to say that this is getting dangerously close to Puleo territory my man! But yeah, is this a potential post-skating career type thing?
I have no idea! I just love being able to express my creativity through something that isn’t skateboarding, as it just makes me tick in a different way. It’s crazy the stuff people throw away too; my flatmates have strictly prohibited me from hoarding any more furniture and weird shit at the house. Right now I love making crazy collages out of all recycled books, magazines and papers that I find in the streets and also I make little sticker bombs that I hide around Gracia!

Shit, we didn’t really end up talking about skating much at all did we… but Will has given me strict instructions to not make this super long, as he has loads of Palace ads to fit in, so let’s start the wrap up, G. Any last words, and any shout outs – apart from telling everyone to follow @Muckmouth of course?
I just wanted to thank everyone that’s had my back along the way! I could never express how grateful I am to everyone that’s helped me out! I’d especially like to thank Gerard Riera for being such an amazing photographer but an even better person! Kevin Parrott for all the help and the whole Olé crew for all the amazing times! Also, I’d like to thank everyone at Free Skate Mag for making this happen!

Alright mate, sick. Cheers for doing this my man! And as soon as I have had this beautiful Covid jab and the world is a bit more normal I will be heading to Barcelona with the quickness to drink those sewer street beers, get rejected by the beautiful women and watch people skate better than me. Hope to catch you then my G!