ASICSeuroHD (quadrennium)

Video: Chase Walker.

Photography: Alex Pires.

Words: Arthur Derrien.

This story starts with Victor Campillo ordering a Late Nite Stars shirt online as a humble fan (after watching their last video), and ends with me, head throbbing from the previous evening’s excesses, staring down at my new ASICS on the Eurostar back from their launch/prem thinking “dunno about Sound Mind or Sound Body right now, but ‘sound’ they most certainly were…”
Actually, it would probably be even more accurate to say that it ends with Dougie George telling me, “We had to sit the NY guys down one night to make them watch the Lordz video” and how their review of it was “The lo-fi beats full-length goes hard!” as that’s the last memory from their Paris/Marseille trip I collected before metaphorically putting pen to paper, but I guess it doesn’t really matter… At this point, all you need to know is that despite the photos you see before you having been shot over two weeks, the arch of this article will span over 6+ months.

Alan Bell, ollie, Marseille.

The first thing that needs acknowledging before we launch into any of this is that it’s not really common practice for shoe companies to sponsor a whole crew. Not to say it never happens, and when for instance Luidgi (Gaydu) did it with The Blobys and Converse in Paris it obviously led to great things, but it’s rare enough that when Chase Walker and his army of New York/Texas transplants took the internet by storm with The Circle, and that every other shoe in the vid was adorned with tiger stripes (a logo we at this point weren’t yet too accustomed to seeing in skate videos), it got people talking.

Victor Campillo, fakie frontside shove-it, Paris.

The second, is that actually listening to Victor – after his shirt purchase – when he started saying, “I love what those guys do, it would be sick to skate with them!” was a stroke of genius. You’d be hard pressed finding two more compatible skate gangs than the Late Nite Stars and his BTR Frenchies (who in turn also ended up getting put on as a unit!) and Asics deciding to orchestrate this giant group play date is one of the main reasons the trip worked out as well as it did. And sure there probably was a little bit of shyness when the idea was originally floated, but as it’s generally the case with most matchmaking affairs, especially those with happy endings like this one, common ground was quickly found and bridged any imaginary gaps there might be (i.e. Trung actually knew of the Marseille lot from their influence in the graf world), and before they knew it, flights to France were booked and it was on!

Jake Lemonds, frontside nosegrind, Marseille.

Enter Davis Torgerson: the Minnesotan mini-beast who burnt that nollie hurricane into our brains long before the term ‘viral’ begrudgingly entered our vocabs. He was in charge of team management on this adventure, and it was the first of the sort for him in this role. Because of this, he played a big part in helping me understand the dynamics at play, which led this mission to be as productive as it was, which essentially could be summarised for you in two words: no egos. As a seasoned veteran of the old clip-chasing travel himself, Davis had heard his fair share of spoilt whining on these types of excursions and a midnight plumbing disaster such as the one that occurred in Marseille could have easily been enough to place the trip in the “bro, I don’t know, it kinda sucked that trip yo” category if the protagonists involved here had instead been more “established” professionals. Or at least it could have been ample excuse for them to not skate the day after, having been up all night trying to contact emergency plumbers/the fire department in a foreign country, with 10cm of water splashing around their ankles. But not our LNS lads… Instead this lot firmed it and handled the situation on their own, not even bothering to tell their TM (who was staying in another AirBnB with the other half of the squad) about it until the next day, subsequently going straight back into clip stacking mode with smiles on their faces all the way until the evening, on practically no sleep. Something I find extra commendable given how much harder it weirdly is to skate when the lack of sleep is due to circumstances outside of your control rather than self-inflicted, but that’s a whole other story (see the Sour Skateboards coined term ‘vodka pop’). Either way, the main takeaway here for Davis, was that the bunch he had on his hands were as down to earth as they get and just extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to travel halfway across the globe to play on their skateboards between LABC Sandwich stops (the Notre Dame du Mont joint that sponsors Victor). I’m sure it sounds corny but you’d be surprised by how often that shit gets taken for granted, and the shared drive he witnessed, coupled with just how pure that passion felt when the crews merged really left an imprint on him. He honestly looked like he was on the cusp of a toast the whole time we were on this video call.

“Every single spot we went to someone skated,” he explained. “And there was not a lot of ‘hey yo I’m gunna do this so get ready to film…’, it was more like an older, late ‘80s version of skateboarding, where it’s just like a skate session that’s being filmed. It always felt so organic and natural, very different to being on a trip with older jaded pros.”

Akwasí Owusu, wallie 180, Marseille.

At this point it’s worth noting that although the bulk of the squad was made up of these two now unified posses, Akwasí was also out there riding up walls and blowing minds in his usual gravity-defying manner and that he enjoyed himself so much in France that he decided to stay out there in the weeks between the end of the trip and the prem. In the same vain, halfway through this thing, Jeanne could be heard plotting future link-ups in New York, begging Davis for another trip with the exact same line-up, and Dougie’s evening Euro skate video curation apparently not just changed the way Chase views skateboarding in our part of the world, but to some extent how he thinks about it all together. Not to mention that, as I type this, Trung is back in Marseille with the BTR lot in full French rudeboy holiday mode, either backflipping off some rocks in Malmousque or on some wild midnight graf mission…

Dougie George, backside nosegrind, Paris.

You can add up all the minutes of footage you want (and you’ll see when the edit drops that they had nothing to worry about on that front), but when it comes to trips like these nothing screams success like the lasting friendships that stem from them, at least for the people actually out there making us dream of our own escapades. For the people paying for them it’s a little different: it’s (amongst other ways) measured in the pages you’ve been flicking through, and how much space that shell of a man staring at his shoes on the train wants to give to such jaunts.

Nico Marti, kickflip, Paris.

No part of me is going to pretend ASICS isn’t a multimillion-dollar trainer company trying to get a piece of the skate shoe market, but I can’t help but feel like if their goal was to join the party and spark some curiosity in a slightly less abrasive, all guns blazing manner, they kind of nailed it. I’m sure they could have quite easily bought all sorts of big-name pros off other companies and bounced them around Europe for a series of awkward signings, but instead what we’re getting is two crews we’ve been rooting for forever, brought together and given the opportunity to mould this thing into whatever they want it to be. How could we not back it?
It probably also doesn’t hurt that their aforementioned slogan does actually resonate with skateboarders (myself included, once that hangover fog had dispersed and the hype injection from staring at these Alex Pires pics had kicked in): no matter how much time you spend staring at your laptop or how many delicious little ‘demis’ you’ve consumed, once those feet start switch crooked grinding, you will inevitably begin to feel sane again… That, and how cool Joey Pepper looked in them in Get Familiar.