Interview by Blair Alley
Just before New Year’s Eve, we got a hold of Chewy at home in London, where although freezing cold and wet, he was kicking back between skate sessions and chatted on the phone with us for quite a while. Being a fan of Chewy's skating for years, you'll be a fan of the man himself after reading this interview—he’s got a refreshingly intelligent take on everything from Southbank’s future, Palace’s success, and personal social media. As for the Transmission part he's dropping tomorrow, well it just doesn't get more raw and stylish. You’re going to want to grab your board and go outside immediately. It’s gonna be an amazing start to the new year. Go Happy Hammers!
Have you been skating with the Palace dudes in London everyday?
Pretty much, that's the main crew. I've got a homie who's just started shooting photos so I've been going out with him, getting him skilled up so he can get his photos in the mags.
If you've got a homie always with you who can shoot photos, you're set.
In the end I'll just recruit him to the Palace. Offical Palace photographer.
What's his name? Let's give him a shout out.
“If people wanted to skate a skatepark, they'd go to one, they wouldn't come to Southbank.”
Where are you from originally?
It's called Great Yarmouth, it's a little coastal town northeast of London.
But you're living in London full-time now?
Yeah, I've been living here for a while. The only time I didn't live here in the past ten years is when I moved to Barcelona for a year.
What's the skate scene like in London right now?
Good, man. This weather definitely sorts the men from the boys, that's for sure. You get the people who still come to the spot, and then you get the people that are like, "Nah, it's too cold to skate in this weather." We ain't got a lot of skateparks you know? We've only got the Bay one that's undercover and everything is outside which is pretty stupid. It's hard work sometimes.
What's the fate of Soutbank right now?
It lies in the hands of the SBC and our followers at Long Live Southbank. We're fighting them all the time to keep the public and our supporters on the backs of the SBC to keep that place open for the community's sake as much as anything to do with the skaters as well. We're waiting until the second of January now to see if we can overthrow a building application or something like that, we've had to object to them every time. It's going to go on and on, we've got the campaign up and running smooth now, and there're people there everyday on the stools. I mean we're doing everything we can.
You've already postponed any demolition for quite awhile now.
We've done a big bit already to keep it there, but this has been going on a long time. I remember when I first came to London there was talk like "Southbank's gonna go." And a wall would be covered in and we'd lose half of it. And then another wall would go. But this time looks like they really want to put more cafes in there, which is just what we need [laughs].
Are they building that new skatepark regardless, up the river a bit?
I think they're going to go ahead and do whatever they want. I mean, I don't hate skateparks, but in comparison to what we already have and built by ourselves and our own means, seems stupid. They have everything they want from it under their noses already. There's no point in putting a skatepark in London, it's crazy. If people wanted to skate a skatepark, they'd go to one, they wouldn't come to Southbank. There wouldn't be a legacy.
It's been disappointing, there's been a couple of skateboarders that have signed their names to put the plans together for the new skatepark. We're like, how can you even do that? How can you call yourself a skateboarder and not recognize how much we'll lose from Southbank as a whole? It's a turn to the dark side just to get a paycheck. The Arts Council are throwing out a lot of money. Like 120 million over the whole renovation. So people getting involved are definitely getting a meal ticket.
That is the dark side right there.
Yeah, suck the corporate cock right there. It's funny though, I skate for a living you know so that's just as corporate as anything else. But just to call yourself a skateboarder and then do that is a painful maneuver that one. You know they can't sleep at night. Hate mail for life if Southbank goes.
That's true, it's not worth it in the end.
People don't forget!
So where was this whole new park filmed at? All in London?
Some bits and pieces, quite frankly I don't know if I've seen the edit. I've been away and Henry [Edwards-Wood]'s been doing his stuff. It is mainly London but I think he put some of the stuff from maybe Bordeaux and maybe some stuff from Pamplona and north of Spain.
Have you heard the song?
Is it the England Story one? That's sick. Seems fitting the England Story. It's good, I like it.
Yeah, you don't see a lot of video parts edited to reggae.
Well I always listen to reggae when I'm skating. I listen to a lot of everything but I do love some reggae in my ear, especially the sort of quicker tempo.
Who are some of the reggae artists you're listening to?
Gregory Isaacs obviously. I love Bob Marley and all the classics, all the early Desmond Dekker stuff as well. I really like dance hall stuff as well. Another bit of Vybz Kartel, it really varies. It's one of my favorites.
How long did you film for this part.
It's kind of weird, we were just going to do a quick edit and just put it out quicker to the mark. It's more ended up taking a year and a bit. We intended to spend three or four months and just get it done, but obviously the weather is shit, and filming being filming, it doesn't always go according to plan. It's good fun, I'm glad it's done.
“We only get half the tricks because the camera keeps dying [laughs]!”
What's the secret to Palace's success?
I don't know, I guess you'll have to ask Lev [Tanju] that. He's the man with the plan. Timing's everything I reckon in the industry, and he's just got a good overview in his head of what a legit company should be. Not even just a skate company, like actually a legitimate company. That's a good plan to start, you get a good team together, and people who like skating, and you're onto a winner. Timing is totally key, the time for British skateboarding, with Blueprint sort of fading away, there was a gap, and Lev filled it at the right time. And a bit of luck, with a bit of ganja twist I reckon!
Who's killing it right now? Who are some of your favorite skaters right now?
In London? Blondey [McCoy] has been killing it. All the teammates have been killing it. Casper Brooker is skating really well in London.
What about in general?
That's so varied man, everyone's so sick. The last video part proper was probably Jake Johnson's part in Alien. The thing is now there're a lot less videos and more edits and you just sort of see like Gilbert and all them boys smashin' it. Grant Taylor and all them boys smashin' it. They're fun to watch. I love watching Freddy Gall pieces and all the Jersey heads still skating. I still watch all the old school videos more than I do the new clips. There're so many skaters, every video part I see nowadays is like, "God damn! That motherfucker's good!"
It's hard to keep up. There's too much coming out.
I really like Brian Delatorre's part that came out a while ago. He's got good style. The MIA part. And Karl Watson had a new little clip not so long ago. That was amazing. He's still got so much finesse.
What do you have planned for 2014?
I'm starting big this year, on the sixth I go down to Barcelona, I'm gonna go to the Bright Tradeshow, hop to Berlin with Vaughan [Baker] and the KR3W boys. Then come home, it's my birthday on the 21st and then I'm going to go to California actually. Come see you lot. I'm gonna come out there on the 22nd because Skin is the TM for adidas and they've got a little apartment out there.
In LA I think. I might be wrong though. It's all California to me man [laughs]! Sunshine and palm trees. Typical foreigner saying that, people will hate me now [laughs]. And then Oz in February. My ladyfriend got some time off so we're going to go to Australia hopefully.
Are you ready for the World Cup next year?
Yeah, hopefully adidas gets to take us out there as well. I got the football. Adidas sent me the official 2014 ball with a little certificate in the box that says, "Hey Chewy, my name's Brazuca, I'm the official 2014 World Cup ball." Super stoked on that man. I don't wanna take it out of the box though man. I can buy one from the shop down the road and take that out for a game of footy. Hopefully if I go to Brazil we can actually go [to the World Cup]. I'll take the footy and try to get it signed or something.
Who's your team back home?
West Ham United. We're shocking at the moment. We're nearly goin' down. It's looking like we're gonna get relegated. But fingers crossed, we are called the Happy Hammers, so…
What's your best Mark Gonzales story from skating with him?
Oh man, there're too many [laughs]. Every time you go out skating with Gonz there's a good story to tell. He's always influential, just keeps you motivated.
He's in the background of a lot of your photos from working on The Cinematographer Project with Torsten Frank.
I remember we were in New York one day, and he came back with a pair of—you know what the punks have on their leather jackets? The pointy studs? He had a pair of shoes with all studs coming out of them and he wanted to skate in them. The day before we were doing freestyling, like stupid freestyle tricks, like Primo stuff. The next day, he got them shoes and he wanted to make a little video with them. He was like, "Chewy, you gotta put these shoes on." Even though they didn't fit me [laughs]. "And do some Primo stuff with them. Do like standing Primo, and then shove-it Primo." And I did a little clip for him. There's a lot going through his brain though. It's quite funny. Fuckin' studded shoes [laughs]. He started to make little edits at that point. I think he must have just discovered the edit thing on computers and just went mad for a minute.
“I think life was better when we knew less about each other.”
Who do you film with in London usually?
I been filming this part with Hold Tight Henry, but we've all been swamped with the Southbank stuff, that's why this video part took quite a long time. At the beginning it was all day everyday sitting at Southbank collecting signatures. I film with Morf, the official Palace filmer, aka Dane Crook.
Is he always filming with the full VHS rig?
Yeah, he's got the VHS and stuff. They've been playing up actually 'cause it's cold. It fucks with the mechanism a little bit, it's weird. We just give it a bash and it comes back on [laughs]. You just have to pray that it stayed on when you do your trick [laughs]. That's what's gonna take the Palace video so long. We only get half the tricks because the camera keeps dying [laughs]!
Are you guys working on a full-length Palace video?
Yeah, man. We've been working on it for a little while, but everyone's been really busy. Obviously Lev's really busy doing stuff as well. He was the original filmer, but we realized we weren't going to get a video out, because I started to film for a little while to try to get some clips of people and stuff. I used to film my mates’ parts when we were kids and stuff. I'm not a filmer so it's quite funny to try to get people to actually do stuff. Now we got Morf, he's been on board for maybe six months or so. Hopefully that will come out sometime within the next year.
You used to have an Instagram, did you delete it or did it get flagged?
I've got one, I'm just on the down low. I just like sharing my photos with my mates. Then I feel bad, if I stay open—I have another name—I feel bad when people try to add me and I'm like, well I don't know this person. And then I feel like a cunt for not adding them. I just like it for my mates. I just like to see my mates' photos and them to see mine, not the whole world. I think life was better when we knew less about each other.
It was more of a mystery, like videos and stuff and all that shit nowadays. I didn't know nothin' about the skaters, just that someone was named 'that' and they might listen to 'that' song that they skated to, and that's it. And you made your ideas up about what they were like from there. That was kinda cool. Now everybody's dinner is on the plate every night. It's like, so and so had spaghetti bolognese this evening—cool [laughs]!
It's so easy to get pulled into it as well. The more you look at, the more you wanna post on it, the more you end up posting dumb shit that nobody cares about [laughs]. I'm not hating on it too hard, I have got one, but I'm holding it down. Now I'll have motherfuckers searching for me. Probably made it worse for myself now, innit. Fuck.
Thanks so much for the interview!
No worries. Good you phoned me in the timeframe, because I just had dinner and I'm going out skating again in a minute. It's gonna be cold though, so wish me luck.