Bipolar Soldier

by Mackenzie Eisenhour

Lewis Marnell has led a life on the perimeters of both our global hemispheres-residing as far north as Stockholm, Sweden to as far south as the perpetual brush fire he calls Melbourne, Australia. He’s a mellow cat. He says what he means and does what he says. With a flatground selection worthy of one of those “it’s that real” video games, a splash of montage in A Time to Shine, and an official spot alongside Daewon Song and the boys over at almost, Marnell’s oats seem to be sewn as tight as a Gucci handbag in a Milan storefront window. However, before you write home to grandma, just to be on the safe side, here’s what he made of the lyrical landmine we like to refer to as the Roll Call.

“Buffalo Soldier” or “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”?
“Buffalo Soldier.”

How long have you been down with Dustin Dollin?
Damn, probably since about ’99. He was pretty much already one of the only dudes doing it from out here-from Australia-without moving to the States or anything. I thought that was sick that he could do that.

Best thing he ever taught you?
Oh f-k, I’ve learned so much from him-just on how to deal with all the industry sh-t. He’s helped me with everything in skateboarding, whether it’s hooking up deals or just how to go about dealing with kids-pretty much anything and everything. Don’t get chewed up and spat out-that’s what he taught me.

Does Australia have inherent beef with England?
No, man. There’s absolute friendship there now. It’s all good times when they cruise out here. No hard feelings, mates.

Biggest perk of riding for Nike SB?
You get to roll business and first class.

Do people trip out when they see a bunch of kids sitting up there?
Oh yeah, for sure. Business dudes are giving you the mad stare down, like, “What’s this kid doing sitting up here? I pay extra so I don’t have to sit next to these bastards.” They get stuck with us, so whatever.

How did you end up in Big Brother’s Boob (1999)?
I was hanging out with Dimitry Elyashkevich a few times in Australia and then in Sweden and around Europe. I kept seeing him around, and he came through one time and got some photos and filmed some stuff.

What’s up with the Swedish connection? I read somewhere that you spoke Swedish.
Yeah, my dad’s actually Swedish. I was born here in Oz then moved to Sweden when I was one, lived there until I was five, and ended up moving back to Melbourne again. Lived here ’til I was thirteen, then I ended up moving back to Sweden again and was only supposed to stay a year but ended up living there for about seven years-from like ’96 to ’02.

So you knew Ali Boulala and that crew when they were comin’ up?
Yeah. Boulala was one of the first dudes I met when I moved back the second time. He was homeys with a bunch of other friends that I knew from before. It was just before Ali got into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip. I go back there every now and then. We did a Nike tour there not so long ago in Malmo. I saw a bunch of buddies last time I went back, and I go up just to visit my dad and sister who still live up there.

That’s a crazy mix. It’s like both poles of the world.
Yeah, it’s good, though. You get the best of both worlds.

Was there a second when you were getting flowed by Baker?
Yeah, Dustin hooked me up with those guys, so I was getting flowed by Baker for a while. He hooked me up with Volcom, too.

How did you end up switching over to almost?
I don’t know, maybe I didn’t fit in on Baker. I wasn’t really around all those dudes, so it never really became a full-on thing. I kind of quit after three years of getting flowed by them and was trying to work something out with the Rasa Libre guys. Then that ended up going under, and one day out of the blue I got this call from Daewon (Song) telling me that he was psyched on my skating and asking if I was interested in doing anything with almost. That phone ca definitely blew me away a little bit. It’s good, though. It gets you psyched.

Biggest impression your first visit to the States left you with?
Well, I went for the first time in ’97, but it wasn’t really to skate. It was more of a holiday-with-the-family sort of thing. Then I just went in ’04 and stayed with Dustin and the crew and got a better picture of it. Skated around a bit. Hurt myself a bit. My general impression was good. I like the States. I mean it’s pretty cool for living, but for skating, it seemed way more difficult having to drive so far to all the spots. And then you get tickets and possibly get arrested and spend a weekend in jail for climbing a fence of a school yard or something. There’s definitely some crazy laws going on over there, but it can be good if you can avoid all that.

All-time greatest Australian skateboarder?
F-k, I don’t know. I’m trying to think back. At the moment, Dustin is probably holding it down the best. Or even Jake Duncombe. He’s holding it down real good right now. But all-time-damn, I might have to say one of those two guys.

Who was your dude from the States?
I would definitely have to say Guy Mariano. I’ve always looked up to him for his skating. He’s just always been so sick-so many steps ahead of everyone else. He’s on his own trip-it’s good. I just like the way he does it. He’s definitely been my biggest influence. He could wear a specific T-shirt and I would just be like, “Damn, that shirt looks good.” You just fan out like that when you’re a kid.

You just hit Japan with almost. How was that?
Yeah, we just hit up Japan and Taiwan. It was pretty crazy. Good fun, though. But it was hard to get food. It was my first time over there, and we ended up going into all the places that had the pictures on the menu and doing the point and shoot, like, “I’ll have one of those, please.” I ended up living pretty much on pizza and pasta out there ’cause I couldn’t get down with the raw fish and all that.

Did you buy any Hello Kitty accessories for your girl?
No (laughs). I did send back a postcard though. But yeah, they have so much of that stuff-crazy gadgets and crazy fashion. It was entertaining, for sure.

How much time do you spend with the almost dudes? Are you on your own down there in Oz?
Well, on tour we’re all down to hang out together. Like, there’s no little cliques or anything. That’s kind of the good thing about our team right now. Everyone’s super chill. Other than that, I’m the only dude out in Australia who’s on the full team, but we got another kid out here who rips-Nugget. He rides for the distribution team. He’s super gnarly.

Were you trippin’ the first time you met Daewon?
Yeah, but I’d actually met him a few times out here in Australia when he was on tour before, so it wasn’t like the first time I’d seen him. He’s definitely a cool cat-just psyched on everything around him.

Best trick in Cheese & Crackers?
Jesus. I don’t know. That’s a tricky question. That’s basically impossible to call. I mean, the whole thing is gnarly. The blunt triple flip. Ummm, the kickflip nosegrind. Then you got all the craziness with sh-t rolling around and all that. I can’t answer that one, man. They’re all best tricks.

Daewon or Haslam?
I’ll give them a draw. That’ll make it more interesting for the next time around.

What is your approach to skateboarding-land or slam or cautious calculation?
Well, if I think I can do something, I’ll definitely go for it. But if I’m not super sure, I’ll sort of test my way forward. Skating is so mental like that. It’s all in what you believe you can do. Mind over matter.

Skating with the ‘Pod on-mental motivation or social cyanide?
It’s always good for mental motivation. But sometimes if you’re in a skatepark full of kids and you just want to skate, the best is just to have the headphones in your ears with nothing playing (laughs). I run that one sometimes just so I don’t end up spending more time talking to the kids than skating.

Biggest gamble you ever made?
The biggest gamble I ever made would probably be moving from Sweden to Australia and not having any clue what I was gonna do job-wise. I had no idea how I was going to support myself. I was going to school in Sweden, and then I was just over it ’cause the winters were too long and it was dark and depressing and I felt like I just had to get out of there-go someplace where I could skate all year round. Then I moved back to Australia, moved in with my mom, and she’s like, “You gotta start paying rent and you have to get a job,” and all that sort of stuff, and I was just like, “Whoa.” But it paid off in the end. I couldn’t wish for anything better than what I have now.

Where is skateboarding headed?
I think everybody is pretty much over the big rail stuff. That stuff is definitely dying out. A lot of people are getting into the manual and more technical side of things now. It’s good, actually. I like it, ’cause I can’t skate rails (laughs). It’s like the biggest mental issue for me. Trying to skate a rail, I get so many things running through my head before I try and do it that it becomes this huge process. It’s just that if you mess up in the beginning, you still have to clear the rail and the stairs. And it sucks to get tangled up in those things. I don’t really like jumping down the biggest stuff either, but as long as it’s something you can clear, you’ll be fine.

Go-to PS2 game?
Actually, I upgraded to an Xbox 360. I been rockin’ that pretty often, playing Saints Row. It’s like a Grand Theft Auto kind of thing but way better.

Worst thing our children will face?
The world, man. Everything. War. Global warming. Pollution. Bush fires. All of it. Actually we’ve been having crazy bush fires here at the moment, burning down people’s houses and stuff. The whole city will be full of smoke. It feels like it’s constantly overcast just because of the thick smoke up there.

Was there a crazy draught or something?
Yeah. But there’s always a draught here. They keep saying, “The water’s gonna run out, the water’s gonna run out.” And somehow it just keeps coming. Hopefully, eventually they can just start recycling the toilet water.

Or maybe they’ll figure out how to make salt water into drinking water.
Yeah. Come on, scientists. What’s up (laughs)?

Worst question I’ve asked you so far?
I can’t even remember most of them. Probably the best trick in Cheese and Crackers.

Guy in Mouse or Gino in Trilogy?
Guy in Mouse.

Foster’s-a joke or the sh-t?
It’s a joke. It’s something that all people who aren’t Australian think is an Australian beer. So all these people in other countries go out to Australian bars and drink Foster’s and think they’re being Australian, but nobody in their right mind drinks that crap out here.

Last lucid dream you had?
Ooooh. It was in Japan. I had this dream that me and Seu (Trinh) were walking down the street. It was either in Japan or Taiwan, but they’re super gnarly on drug laws over there, and I had this dream that we were walking down the street and these two old dudes were sitting on a bench smoking a spliff and they were like, “Hey guys, you want some of this?” And we were like, “Yeah, sure.” Then right when they passed it, all these cops came out from every direction, busted us, and threw us in jail. I seriously woke up sweating and was paranoid for the rest of the trip.

Most obscure fact about Melbourne nobody knows?
What do you mean?

Like, is it built on an Indian burial ground or something?
I don’t know…

Was that my worst question?
No. That’s not a bad question, it’s just that I don’t have a good answer for it.

metimes just so I don’t end up spending more time talking to the kids than skating.

Biggest gamble you ever made?
The biggest gamble I ever made would probably be moving from Sweden to Australia and not having any clue what I was gonna do job-wise. I had no idea how I was going to support myself. I was going to school in Sweden, and then I was just over it ’cause the winters were too long and it was dark and depressing and I felt like I just had to get out of there-go someplace where I could skate all year round. Then I moved back to Australia, moved in with my mom, and she’s like, “You gotta start paying rent and you have to get a job,” and all that sort of stuff, and I was just like, “Whoa.” But it paid off in the end. I couldn’t wish for anything better than what I have now.

Where is skateboarding headed?
I think everybody is pretty much over the big rail stuff. That stuff is definitely dying out. A lot of people are getting into the manual and more technical side of things now. It’s good, actually. I like it, ’cause I can’t skate rails (laughs). It’s like the biggest mental issue for me. Trying to skate a rail, I get so many things running through my head before I try and do it that it becomes this huge process. It’s just that if you mess up in the beginning, you still have to clear the rail and the stairs. And it sucks to get tangled up in those things. I don’t really like jumping down the biggest stuff either, but as long as it’s something you can clear, you’ll be fine.

Go-to PS2 game?
Actually, I upgraded to an Xbox 360. I been rockin’ that pretty often, playing Saints Row. It’s like a Grand Theft Auto kind of thing but way better.

Worst thing our children will face?
The world, man. Everything. War. Global warming. Pollution. Bush fires. All of it. Actually we’ve been having crazy bush fires here at the moment, burning down people’s houses and stuff. The whole city will be full of smoke. It feels like it’s constantly overcast just because of the thick smoke up there.

Was there a crazy draught or something?
Yeah. But there’s always a draught here. They keep saying, “The water’s gonna run out, the water’s gonna run out.” And somehow it just keeps coming. Hopefully, eventually they can just start recycling the toilet water.

Or maybe they’ll figure out how to make salt water into drinking water.
Yeah. Come on, scientists. What’s up (laughs)?

Worst question I’ve asked you so far?
I can’t even remember most of them. Probably the best trick in Cheese and Crackers.

Guy in Mouse or Gino in Trilogy?
Guy in Mouse.

Foster’s-a joke or the sh-t?
It’s a joke. It’s something that all people who aren’t Australian think is an Australian beer. So all these people in other countries go out to Australian bars and drink Foster’s and think they’re being Australian, but nobody in their right mind drinks that crap out here.

Last lucid dream you had?
Ooooh. It was in Japan. I had this dream that me and Seu (Trinh) were walking down the street. It was either in Japan or Taiwan, but they’re super gnarly on drug laws over there, and I had this dream that we were walking down the street and these two old dudes were sitting on a bench smoking a spliff and they were like, “Hey guys, you want some of this?” And we were like, “Yeah, sure.” Then right when they passed it, all these cops came out from every direction, busted us, and threw us in jail. I seriously woke up sweating and was paranoid for the rest of the trip.

Most obscure fact about Melbourne nobody knows?
What do you mean?

Like, is it built on an Indian burial ground or something?
I don’t know…

Was that my worst question?
No. That’s not a bad question, it’s just that I don’t have a good answer for it.