Chris Haslam & Kevin Harris: Out Of The Wild (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2

Interview by Sean Mortimer

You both have really original tricks. What one garnered the most enthusiastic response?

Haslam: The front blunt on the board from the almost video got as much response as the kickflip back smith on the 12-stair Hollywood High rail. I was shitting my pants on the 12-stair. I wasn’t even going to put the front blunt in the video. I thought the line sucked but that trick seemed to get people psyched on the part.


Why do you think the blunt gets so much attention?

Haslam: Maybe because it’s in the grasp of everybody if you know how to ollie? It’s something you do for fun.

And it was a complete surprise. When I saw the board come into frame, I don’t expect you to use it. You don’t get ambushed like that in skate videos often. Even if an upcoming trick is gnar, just by the way it’s framed, you have a general idea of what to expect.

Harris: That’s what it is about Chris—you expect him to do something but he’ll bust something unexpected.


Kevin, what one of your tricks did people really respond to?

Harris: Maybe when I broke the world record for two-board 360s.

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Can you break down what 360s meant in the 1979?

Harris: In the ’70s, it wasn’t how high can you ollie or how many stairs. It was “How many 360s can you do?” How you were judged as a skater was down to how many spins you could do. This was before airs on ramps. I read in the magazine how Steve Cathey spun 65 two-board 360s, one on each foot. I was trying to keep up in my garage in Richmond with my friends counting. Then the next magazine would come out and announced that he’d spun 155, but by then I had spun 200.
Somehow the organizer at the Canadian National contest heard about it and he invited me to try and break the world record at the contest. I went into the Vancouver Coliseum with 5,000 plus people in the crowd thinking it was going to be a sideshow, but the lights dimmed and two spotlights came on me. I was super nervous but I started to spin. Monty [Little], the organizer, announced how the record was 155 and after I beat that, I thought I should stop so they could get on with the contest—I was taking up the whole friggin’ floor. At around 200 spins the crowd started stomping their feet and chanting “One thousand! One thousand!”
In my mind, I thought, Are you friggin’ kidding me? But the crowd kept pushing me. I wore full safety equipment and was sweating like a sprinkler. I could see the circle of sprayed sweat on the ground. It took fifteen minutes and I finally stopped after 1,032 spins. I could barely walk—all the moisture was gone from my body. That was talked about a lot until skating changed and 360s didn’t mean the same thing.
I imagined I’d get a full page color shot in SkateBoarder, but it was just a little black and white picture. If I was in California, it might have gotten more coverage. It emphasized the second-class identity of Canadian skaters.


How many 360s can you do, Chris?

Haslam: I think seven. That’s insane—1,032. I’ve got some work to do.

Harris: Fifteen minutes—it could be your whole video part.

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Looking back, are you glad you started skating away from a strong scene?

Harris: Yes. But I didn’t think that way back then.

Haslam: I’m glad I grew up the way I did, but when I was in Singapore, I wanted to be in Vancouver.


Do you think location matters in skating regarding influence?

Harris: If I grew up in California in the ’70s and dealt with that peer pressure all the time, maybe I would have completely changed my style of skating. But in Richmond, I wasn’t aware of that pressure until I came down for contests.

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A strong skate city like L.A. can freeze a skater’s creativity. There are so many gnar skaters doing crazy things at the spots.

Haslam: Yeah, for some people, L.A. can mold you. It’s like Kevin was saying—you can lose your hometown originality. Now, if you go anywhere in the world, there’s going to be skaters there and they’re going to have different outlooks.


Are you interested in those different outlooks?

Haslam: Oh yeah, obviously. They’re going to skate stuff that nobody else will and have tricks from their area. I’ll learn a version of it and people will react like it’s new but some guy has been doing it for fifteen years and I just kind of stole it from him. I give credit where credit’s due, though.
I had to move to get where I am. You won’t be able to skate for a living in Malaysia—the resources aren’t there. But you have to work with what you have because it’ll influence your skating at a later date for sure.

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Let’s end with a reversal—you guys ever see some random kid do something weird and original on a skateboard and go tell him how rad it is?

Harris: If I see a kid at a skatepark doing something totally different, I’ll be the first to go up to him and tell him it’s awesome and to keep doing it.

Haslam: There are so many skaters doing the same thing now that those kids doing their own thing are easy to spot. I want to see creative skating. I don’t want to see people doing the same tricks over and over again. When I see somebody putting their brain into what they’re doing, I get psyched. I skate with kids at the park and they each have their own little flavor. I tell them all the time that they can frontside flip a twenty stair and it’ll take two seconds to go by in a video and people will forget about it. You’ve got to have something unique that people will think is sick.

For more on Sean Mortimer, he wrote some books with Hawk, Mullen, Daewon, Olson, Vallely, Haslam, etc.

Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder

Mullen: The Mutt
Daewon, Olson, Haslam: Stalefish

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Two of the nicest, easy-going guys you'll ever meet.

Photos: Blair