(Featured: Sidewalk Magazine, 20th July 2015)
My mom and my dad are from Castleford. I might not be exactly correct because I don’t know England as well as I know North America so let’s just say this. My parents are from England, they moved to the USA with green cards because my dad had a job over there as a tailor, I think it was. They lived there for a while in Ohio and then moved over to Canada and had my brother and me. We grew up there and I moved to California at seventeen years old.
With you riding for Flip for so many years and it starting out as a UK company, I imagine you must have a spent a bit of time here?
Yeah, I don’t even know how many times I’ve been here. When I was younger my parents would bring me here every summer, or every other summer, and we’d spend time all over England. Probably mostly… what is it, central England? I’m not sure where Castleford is…
Okay, so we would go up there, my brother, my parents and me. I have cousins who I think still live there. But yeah I’ve been to England a lot on skate trips over the years – I’ve been maybe five times. In total if you had me coming here as a child I’ve probably been here like ten to fifteen times.
What are some of the other places you’ve visited here before and how do you think London compares to some of the other cities?
Well we did a tour to Manchester and I think even further up than that. London’s just like a big happening city, it’s on the map. It’s London, there’s a lot going on and a lot of famous skate spots. Those other towns, they all felt like smaller towns to me…I don’t know – you go on tour, have breakfast: beans on toast and whatever else you guys eat out here. You got different bacon out here, it’s real like, less cooked and a little thicker (laughs). But it’s cool, I like England, it’s a nice place.
You’ve come over at a good time; this is probably the best weather we’re going to get all year…
Yeah it’s really nice. It’s been hot every day we’ve been here except for that night it started raining out of nowhere, pretty heavy rain. But then the next day it was clear so it’s been real nice and pretty hot.
So you’re going to Oxford tomorrow for a demo and signing at SS20, have you ever been to Tom Penny’s hometown before?
No I don’t think I’ve ever been to Oxford, I might have without knowing it or passed through but I think this is my first time going to Oxford.
Did you know it has quite a reputation with SS20 and Tom being from there?
Yeah I know that Penny’s from Oxford, I think a lot of people know that. It just goes with the name, you hear Tom Penny, and you think Oxford. I look forward to going there and it should be cool, I’d like to see as much as I can in the time that we have while we’re here and get some skating in too. All that good stuff.
I’ve heard you’re big on travelling, did that factor in to you choosing to ride for Element? Those guys are pretty into camping too.
You know what man? As of recently I have been less interested in travelling because I enjoy being at home with my two and a half year old son. But I still enjoy a good skate trip. Get all the boys together, get the team together and it’s always good. A lot of good skateboarding happens and you polish up on your skating and everything’s good… I’ve forgot the question where I am going with this?
(Laughs) did the whole travelling thing have anything to do with you choosing to ride for Element?
Nah, I knew they travelled, I wouldn’t say they travel that much more than the average skate team out there. But they do camp, that’s part of who they are. They camp and have a skate camp and I’m there every year a couple of times. I’m a visiting pro at the skate camp in central California and that’s fun, I really enjoy I that. We go to the REI store, I don’t know if you have them over here, big camping store – get tents, flashlights, sleeping bags and get all geared up you know? I’ve been riding for Element for like four or five years now. Some of the trips we go on we do just camp. Out of the trip we’ll maybe be in a hotel for one or two of those nights and probably just camp the rest of those nights. It’s good; the team manager is like an amazing chef so at campsites he can cook it up. Just start a fire and make you an amazing meal. Everybody loves the food he makes; he can make it in the middle of the woods so long as there’s like a fire or whatever, some pots and that to cook up.
So where are you looking forward to hitting up on the rest of this tour?
Lyon’s cool, Berlin’s cool. We’re going to Barcelona for just a couple of days.
Barcelona never gets old.
Barcelona: it’s been a big part of my life. I met my wife in Barcelona, I’ve spent a lot of time there and for skateboarding it is a Mecca and epic. But I do appreciate going home because I love California. But I’m good, I’m on tour, it’s really good to be with the crew. We did a demo at Southbank today and it just feels good to be out here skating.
How is it juggling skating around the family life? Do you find they balance each other out nicely?
Well you know, basically I was at the point in my career and my life where I could have a family and my wife wanted to have a kid. So I was thirty when I had my son and it’s been the most amazing thing in my life. I balance skating because I’m already established, I’m not trying to come up, I’m not going out every day and trying to do something gnarly that’s going to be in a magazine or… I mean come on – I skate and I still want to come on through with good quality stuff. I’m a little older than I was back then. I’ve found a new groove or something and I guess I don’t have to… I stopped caring about trying to do tricks just because I thought they were good tricks and sort of be noticed. If I think about that nowadays it kind of takes the fun out of skating. I don’t feel the need to do certain things like I did before so I just try to have as much fun with skating as I can really because I get sorer these days and I just like to skate so much that I don’t want to do super crazy stuff. I find a lot of enjoyment out of other things. Over time skateboarding can take a toll – I like to not jump down huge stuff, I don’t have that urge. I like to do shit that feels good and is fun.
I know one of the reasons you were drawn to Element originally was because you’re friends with Darrell Stanton but he seems to have dropped off the radar over the last few years. Are you still in touch with him?
No, I’m not… He’s doing his own thing. Everyone has certain circumstances and everyone’s different… I love Darrell, he’s a really great person and I don’t know… I haven’t talked to him in a while.
Last time we interviewed you was for our Product Guide back in 2013 when your current shoe with Globe, the Mahalo, had just been released. What sort of reception has the shoe had since then?
It’s a good looking shoe I think and it’s been getting a good reception, it’s been selling pretty good and doing well.
It seems to be a favourite of the team too. I saw Paul Hart and some of the other guys wearing it.
Yeah some of the guys have issues with it being vulcanised and not padded enough for the stuff they’re doing. So I’m gonna look into the same upper with a more padded sort of cupsole you know? Look into some more options for how to make that more ready for impact.
You also brought out a mid top version shortly afterwards. Are you planning on working on a new shoe or do you think you got it right with the Mahalo and are sticking with it?
Well actually I’m wearing, I’m going show you right now, it’s still my shoe but it’s in a different category and is called the Mahalo, but it’s the Mahalo Light. It’s basically got some of the similar features and panels as the Mahalo skate shoe. But this is more of like an after skating shoe, like a rest shoe because it’s nice to have comfortable shoes on, especially if you skate. I just let Globe know that I need a shoe I can stand up in after I go skating; I need something I can wear that’s comfortable. So we came up with this. Like let’s not even make it necessarily skate-able, kind of sporty, it has an air bubble and it’s got some mad mesh. It looks like a really nice shoe – it’s called the Mahalo light.
What prompted this tour? Are Globe working on a video or anything like that right now?
They probably just felt like getting out there a little bit more. You know Globe is a huge brand, a very established brand, been around a long time and we always do tours; whether there be a two or three year gap in between, we do tours and we generally do them pretty big, we do a lot of stops in the continent we’re going to. I was in Costa Rica about a month ago on a Globe trip with Louie Barletta and Paul Hart.
How is it seeing some newer guys on the team like Paul Hart?
Oh I’m so stoked man; I think that’s such a great addition. Bringing in some new blood.
You’ve been a little quiet since putting out Soul Rebel when you first got on Element, but can we expect another full part from you in the future?
I film, I go on these trips and sometimes I get footage and just save it. Clip by clip whether there be a month gap in between, whatever, I’ll try to save the clips. Sometimes you have to use them for commercials and whatever. Basically I’ve been trying to get clips for an upcoming Element video, which is still about a year, or perhaps more, away from now. I want some presence in that. I know the team is really fucking heavy and sick and I love all those dudes. For myself, I’d like to have another video part. And for the fans you know? I’m gonna have another video part, for fucking sure.
Although you’ve done it for a lot of years do you still enjoy that process of just filming a standard video part?
Yeah I just need to go on the right trips to the right unique spots and make it happen. Live it and make it happen. Of course it’s all there, I just have more responsibilities as a father and a more grown ass man; homeowner and trying to get my shit right, have my shit in order… type of motherfucker that I am, you know what I’m saying?
Obviously now you’ve got more responsibilities that process is more spread out as opposed to your past ones. I read that you wrapped up Extremely Sorry  like five years before the video was finished?
Oh that’s true! I was just all about skating. I was a young dude hungry for it, going for it, casual about it but at the same time pushing myself to these limits. But knew I was hanging out with these top dogs and that was my role. I pushed myself but I felt a lot of relief being older. I’m glad I’m in the skateboarding industry as a pro still… Allowed myself to take it easy and have fun with it and you know in skateboarding there’s different things, so many avenues you know? You can be manual champ, you can be quarterpipe/transition dude, you can be fucking technical dude, gnarly dude, you can be something in between. You could just be whatever you want to be, there’s so many fucking options, you can do whatever you want.
So did you get up to anything special for Canada Day or did you miss it because of being on tour?
No we partied dog, we fucking partied.
What would be the traditional way to spend Canada Day if you where back in BC?
Well I’m not actually from BC I’m from Toronto – I know Canada is a huge country. But I’m from a five hour plane ride away from BC, which would be Ontario, Canada – the big city is Toronto. I’m from about an hour away from there. A town called Oakville where there are some English people for sure, there’s some English presence for sure in Canada and yeah I’m from there and… back to the question?
What would be the traditional way to spend it?
Traditional way to celebrate Canada Day? You know depending what age you are – just celebrate that freedom and drink and whatever… Kind of celebrate it similar to the way American’s celebrate July fourth but probably not as mental. Like go all in, all nuts; we just keeping it cool and have a good time, probably get drunk.
Finally, who could stomp more tre flips in a row without missing one – you or Josh Kalis?
(Laughs) Probably Josh Kalis man, all props to Josh Kalis. He’s got the original fucking booster tre flip. He’s got the original. I always looked up to him. I would say Josh because he’s fucking awesome and he’s got one of the best 360 flips ever.