Paul ‘Wapo’ Watson — ‘First Light’ Interview (Sidewalk Magazine #206, November 2013)

An interview with Paul ‘Wapo’ Watson for his introductory ‘First Light’ interview in Sidewalk Magazine #206, November 2013.

Introductions by Sam Taylor and Wayne Miller, owner of Division 24 Skate Store, interview by Farran Golding, photography by Chris Johnson.

Paul 'Wapo' Watson wearing a Division 24 Skate Store t-shirt shirt.
photo: Chris Johnson

“I’ve known Wapo for years, we both started skating together about ten years ago when Ben Powell’s mum – Wapo’s next door neighbour, started sorting him out with boards and countless skate videos. We were stoked. I remember we’d put the sketchiest rail down the stairs in his garden and skate all day, nearly going through his glass patio doors so many times. Looking back, it was gnarly, cracks everywhere and no run up, but we were just hyped to be skating.

Still to this day he’s just one of those people that loves skateboarding. Such a fun guy to skate with, he comes out with the craziest lines and tricks that no one would think to do and somehow manages to stick near enough everything first time. I was so stoked when we both started skating for Division 24 and he’s been killing it ever since!” – Sam Taylor

“The first time I had a proper skate with Paul was years ago at my local park. I just thought, “This kid is ridiculous, cool as fuck and oozes style on a board – I’ve got to have him on the shop team.” Paul’s not only Wakefield’s answer to John Cardiel but he’s such a nice guy too. It’s a real pleasure to have him on the shop team and he reps it big time!” – Wayne Miller 

Paul 'Wapo' Watson, wallie to melon grab in Wakefield photographed by Chris Johnson for Sidewalk Magazine.
wallie melon, Wakefield. photo: Chris Johnson

Skateboarder, purveyor of ripped off collars and alcohol-influenced skate stupidity – who are you Paul, and where are you from?

I’m Paul Watson, otherwise known as ‘Wapo’, from Wakefield, and I’ve been skateboarding for 10 years.

Who currently hooks you up?

Division 24 Skate Store in Wakefield – represent! Sore Skateboards from Leeds and Sturdy Wings, a little clothing company from Manchester.

As you grew up next door to Ben Powell’s parents you have some history with this magazine. How did Ben’s mum basically force you to be a skateboarder?

[Laughs] She kept hearing Sam [Taylor] and I flying down the stairs behind our house. Eventually she came round with a box full of mags and Ben’s old VCRs and explained who he was. That just made me want to keep skating and sort of impress him. Well, not impress him, but get him stoked and show I was thankful.

“She kept hearing Sam [Taylor] and I flying down the stairs behind our house. Eventually she came round with a box full of mags and Ben’s old VCRs and explained who he was.”

What skateboarders were you into growing up?

I always loved Shane Cross. After that it was the guys I skated with, like seeing Brenna [Brendan Harrap] skate and Jim O’Malley and Aiden [Blaymire]. When I started skating with Aiden, I started getting well into it. I was into [Geoff] Rowley too, big time!

Without a choice you’ve been ‘WUG’ since day one. What does it mean and who makes up the crew?

“WUG” stands for “Wakefield Underground’. I don’t know who made up the phrase originally, I picked it up from Aiden who picked it up as kid from seeing Ben and all those older guys skating. I don’t think anybody knows who made it up, it’s just skating and having fun in Wakefield! The “Wugfathers” are Powell, of course, he’s been repping it for years. Then I’d definitely say Jim O’Malley (secret Division 24 team manager).

Aside from a recent visit from the Polar team, Wakefield is a usually a pretty unfrequented city. What do you think to the skate scene here?

It’s grown massively. It started out with the original WUG crew and the mighty Carpetworld and then Aiden carried it on. Now because of The Wreck and then after that, Thornes Skate {ark, it’s brought everyone together. The kids are absolutely killing it. Josh McGinley, Ben Moulson, kids like that are ripping.

You also work in a skate shop/park, Subvert Boardstore. What is that like? Should you mix work and pleasure?

It’s a sick job, awesome vibes down there from the guys and kids. It’s a sick little place, cool being able to talk about skating all day.

“I think I must have wiped out on the hill bomb around the corner. Pretty standard procedure.”

Every year your crew vanish for a week and come back looking drastically more weary than usual. What exactly happens on the yearly WUG tour?

What happens on the Scotland trip normally stays on the Scotland trip! Oh my god what’s a good one from this year… Probably [Josh] Thornton trying to drink twenty four beers before we got to the campsite, passing out in his tent, waking up, doing his thing in the sea, running back and standing next to the fire for ten minutes, naked and drinking a beer.

Road kill section of Scotland trips! The first or second year I was on the phone to [Josh] Hunter, we were in the car behind and he was in front and we heard Callum [Christie] shout “Pigeon!” then we saw an explosion of blood and feathers and screaming down the phone. Then this year, Hunter and Aiden were looking at a deer – right tranquil – Callum was driving and then just shat himself as the deer ran straight in front of the car! [Laughs] We thought it was going to hit our car and we were behind it, it was hectic.

Your best mate Sam Taylor also has endless stories about you skating drunk. Care to tell the story of Sam’s 21st birthday?

I don’t really know what happened. Apparently I left in a bit of a mood, got my skateboard and set off, then slammed really hard, started skating off again and I think I must have wiped out on the hill bomb around the corner. Pretty standard procedure. I woke up the next day with blood all over my face, bed covers and hip. It was Sam’s 21st though, I bet he was worse.

Any final thoughts and thanks?

Ben for the sick opportunities I’ve had in the past few months like taking me to the Vans Demo. Thanks to all the WUG rats: Jim, Brenna, Farran, Sam, Hunter, Frank and Jack Spacey, Thornton, Cowie, Jal, Dave, Callum – all those guys. All the guys at work. Brenna for bullying me into doing loads of stuff [laughs]. Aiden Blaymire for getting me pumped and providing the stoke non-stop. Sore Skateboards – stoked to see where that goes. Division 24 – Wayne Miller, the man, the boss, the provider!