(Featured: Sidewalk Magazine, 24th July 2015.)
Writing this introduction wasn’t particularly easy which is strange because Austyn Gillette is a skateboarder who I usually have endless amounts good things to say about. However over the course of the past few months my vocabulary towards the man with a style as smooth his namesake razor has dwindled due to putting together an interview with him which you can read here.
Following on from said interview, it seemed like a good time to take a gaze back at his video output over the years starting with the days when Austyn was a fresh faced member of the Habitat team. He’s fairly talked about guy right now (to put it lightly) and to say he hasn’t been able to skate in over a year which isn’t bad going. Now this is done, you can enjoy this recollection of some of Austyn’s finest moments and I’ll go get my coat for that terrible razor joke…
Habitat Skateboards – ‘Inhabitants’ (2007)
Long before the days of slim black jeans, cigarettes and powerfully flicked switch kickflips; Austyn was a clean cut Cali kid. His part in Habitat Skateboard’s Inhabitants was his first visual outing with the company since outgrowing Termite and settling down with Joe Castrucci and co. Obvious and fairly drastic outfit changes are a main difference between the young Austyn we have here and the one we know today and though he spent a number of years with the company, the brown pants that are a staple of the Habitat brand appeared to have also been outgrown following this part.
Though there is more focus on technical tricks here, as seen with the backside 180 5-0 fakie shove and switch back tail Bigspin shortly afterwards early into the part and nollie half cab crook shove out later so. However his trademark loose yet powerful style he would mature into is clearly there.
Quiksilver – Welcome to the Team (2010)
From 2010 to ’13 Austyn was part of the Quiksilver denim team along with Jake Johnson, Alex Olson, Reese Forbes, Riley Hawk, Danny Garcia and David Clark to name a few. Short and sweet, this welcome to the team clip displays Austyn with a slightly more assured and loose style. You can see a few of the tricks Austyn would better known for begin to emerge here. In instances such as the 180 out of nose manual and frontside noseslide variation in the opening line while the wrong way in frontside 180 to fakie 5050 would be a trick one he would elaborate on in following video parts. And if you really want to read too far into this the ollie over the stairset/handrail to bank at 0:29 almost foreshadows his ender at Brooklyn Banks from Origin. The nonchalance on the ride away of the switch backside tailslide flip out at the ender is piss take casual.
Thrasher Magazine – Hell on Wheels (2010)
Though originally from Brea and now living in Los Angeles, Austyn spent a few years as a resident of San Francisco during which Thrasher caught up with him for a Hell On Wheels. Not that Austyn was any stranger to speed before but it seems the move to SF (and likely the many hill bombs that go with it) prompted him to start skating a little faster. Even when the ride out calls for a quick swerve and loose trucked getaway… Bars get sprung over, sometimes with the help of a bump, sometimes without along with a couple of surprising stair belters to thrown in to round things off. Once again, Austyn sees fit on another perfect switch backside tailslide flip out.
Habitat Skateboards –‘Origin’ (2010)
Possibly his best and my personal favourite part ever. Habitat’s third full length video, Origin, showcasing spot and trick selection combined with trademark Habitat cinematography to make for one of the best parts of the video as a whole. The choice of Four Provinces by The Walkmen (one of Gillette’s favourite bands) is an amazing fit too… Manual skills are on display as Austyn casually frontside flips to fakie manual then placing himself out blindside while the seemingly never ending line starting at 0:48 results in a similar scenario. It’s also worth pausing around the 45 second mark and taking a second to appreciate Joe Castrucci’s camera work for Austyn’s sunset back-dropped kickflip fakie on what appears to be a disused water slide. Flowing lines are consistent with a few bump to bars (which seems to be a favoured type of terrain) getting handled frequently. Awkward backside tricks are definitely no stranger here; kickflipping out of fakie backside tailslide, backside lip sliding the well known corner ledge to hill bomb spot in SF along with going alley oop into to fakie fifty to finish a line at the Warschauer Strasse benches.
Quiksilver – ‘Outhouse, Warehouse, Flophouse’ (2011)
Shortly after Austyn was welcomed to the team and Quiksilver established their short lived denim roster; Bill Strobeck was hired as lens wielder for the company. Although a full length video was on the cards, due to Quiksilver dropping the team this never materialised. But during the time Austyn, Alex and Bill were with the company, they produced a few short and sweet web clips. This features the two pop powerhouses skating the Quik warehouse prior to it being transformed into a skate park (see following paragraph). A sofa session ensues which sees Austyn deliver his renowned and pristinely flicked frontside, backside and switch kickflips. Long lines are put together, nearly all of which see this warehouse’s resident sofa get powered over and even length ways at one point…
Quiksilver –Door 33 featuring Austyn Gillette (2011)
With the previous clip’s warehouse now decked out with plywood, Austyn saw fit to stop by for a quick burn around with a cameo from his well known doggy pal Walter. With the footage count clocking in at less than a minute, Austyn still finds time to show off some quick footed finesse with the crooked grind to pop in at 0:43 and some of his lesser seen transition skills at the end.
Quiksilver – Quik (2012)
Imagine if this had been Gino. With all that pushing I bet SLAP would’ve imploded and the over thirties crowd might have heralded this video as the second coming of… well, Gino. Though only containing a handful of tricks, this Colin Kennedy (not our Colin Kennedy) helmed clip sees Austyn tanking through the streets of LA and it does a pretty firm job of making you want to grab your board and tank it around the your own neighbourhood. In a contrast to the usual video part format, this gives a snapshot of life in Los Angeles in between Austyn tanking it down sidewalks, around citizens and over road gaps. Because of the small amount of tricks and due to the obvious focal point on the setting and traversing a city; everything stands out. Especially with him matching the speeds Road Runner probably travels at. However, as its one of my favourite tricks, the switch flip to hill bomb always grabs attention while Austyn deserves commending for mastering a switch push with the same finesse, power and speed as a regular stance one. Tanking it up to a road gap and delivering a tre flip, to the push away like nothing had occurred also highlights Gillette’s signature nonchalant nature on a board perfectly.
Habitat Skateboards – Austyn Unlimited (2012)
Released in conjunction with his short lived, but incredibly good, pro model for Habitat Footwear; this part sees Austyn cruising spots from SF to Spain, Portugal, Finland and Berlin if the Austyn Unlimited Habitat board hung on my wall is to be believed… The company’s and Castrucci’s style of cinematography is present but with a more modern feel with the style established in Austyn Unlimited being carried on into 2013’s Search the Horizon. All manner of right way in, wrong way out trickery is showcased, with Austyn delivering a frontside noseslide frontside 270 outs in either stance to make Carl Shipman proud (however sans the slappy part that now seems synonymous with that trick). Lines are kept lengthy, fast and loose despite one filmer collision while bump to bars and bollards are 360, frontside and backside flipped with ease. Even when it comes to body twisting and outright confusing ledge combos like the fakie frontside 180 to backside smith, fakie front 180 to back crook half cab and the nollie backside 180 switch 5050 backside 180 out Austyn remains as nonchalant as ever… And that last one is popped out mid-ledge! Not to mention the alley-oop noseblunt on the bank towards the part’s close – cool breeze…
Grant Yansura – ‘Cosmic Vomit 2′ (2013)
Bad hip hop, bleach blond hair and double denim? Grant Yansura’s second intergalactic chunder video might appear to present very different Austyn Gillette but there’s still pop and style in abundance. It’s fair enough to think the point in the opening line is a little cocky. Perhaps it’s a reference to Kareem’s pager check in some way or many of the similar moments of amusing body language that have popped up in skate videos since. But after Austyn switch 360 flips a stairset and scrambles to keep off the floor it just adds comedy – with the soundtrack in mind and most of his light hearted friends from WKND Skateboards featuring; Cosmic Vomit 2 isn’t a video to take completely seriously however it does contain some fucking great skateboarding well worth your attention. Though the flashes of him Ryan Gosling’d up bring some good laughs (bang on the 0:38 mark). Lines, a banging frontside heelflip to almost car collision, many body bending ledge tricks starting around 1:35 and the closing bump to bar session with Daryl Angel all make for great viewing if you can muscle through the song…
HUF Worldwide – HUF Worldwide presents: The Gillette (2015)
Despite barely having stepped on a skateboard for the last year, for reasons you can discover here, Austyn still came through with this part to debut his first shoe with HUF. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some of this was filmed on the way into his knees’ decline so we can’t wait to see whatever comes from Mr Gillette once he’s recovered. Revisiting a spot that seems to be a favourite of his for filming lines, the Warschauer Strasse benches, sees Austyn place an awkward and interesting fakie front shove to nosegrind backside 180 out. The front noseslide 270 variations he perfected in Unlimited pop back up, but are popped into from fakie this time, while the back to back stairsets in Berlin also get re-visited; practically mirroring his line in Unlimited with a frontside 180 down the first and switch tre down the second. Throwing caution of what’s ‘cool’ and his board to the wind, Austyn handles some sure to be familiar bumps with a stylish switch 180 and late bigspin. Then following on with a tre flip over a gap that can only be described as ‘awkward’ to say to least and ‘fucking huge’ to put it a bit less lightly… Finally Austyn rounds things off with a cherry looking bump to bar frontside heelflip and an outstanding switch front noseslide flip out. While I’d say this is Austyn’s best part to date, that would feel like somewhat of a disservice to past video entries which, if you’ve read to here, never have disappointed. V-neck represent…