We chat to Australia's three newest professional skateboarders.
All photos by Jason Morey.
First and foremost – congratulations on turning pro with the release of '344'! How does it feel?
Mike: Thanks. I’m stoked, although with the ridiculous level skateboarding is at right now I don't feel deserving of the title. Have you seen what kids can do these days?! Geez...
Casey: It feels good, man. Pretty insane. The 4 Skate Co. has been one of my favourite board companies for years. If someone told me this was gonna happen five years ago, I'd tell them they were absolutely dreaming (laughs).
Harry: It feels cool. I’m stoked.
Did you have any idea this project would lead to your name on a board while filming for '344'?
Mike: I had an inkling. Brett [Margaritis, owner of The 4 Skate Co.] had raised the idea as a possibility in the past, so I knew there was a chance it could happen.
Casey: Not for the first five months of filming or so. Initially it was supposed to be a surprise at the premiere. It’s been really motivating having that pressure put on you though. I haven't really 'worked' on video parts before. It’s all just come naturally through skating heaps around the city and filming whatever I’m feeling at the time. This project has had a bit more thought around it.
Harry: I had a bit of an inkling that it would. There was a lot of talk about it for a while. Brett and Midds [Chris Middlebrook] talked about it, but for the most part I wasn't sure if it would actually ending up happening or not.
Casey, quick-footed ollie up to kickflip.
What is the importance of pro boards in our Australian industry and why?
Mike: I'd say very important. Growing up skating in Melbourne I admired and respected the guys I saw ripping in real life or in Aussie mags more so than the Yanks, because I could relate to the spots and got to witness them in real life. I didn't have many options for supporting Aussie brands back then which weren't blanks or branded logo boards. To be able to turn pro in Australia opens a new realm of possibility for the future. For the skaters of tomorrow to be able to aspire to a goal that is reachable without having to move The States is pretty awesome. Ten years from now the Aussie industry will be a totally different machine, and I'm excited to see where it can take us.
Casey: I think it’s important to support your local scene, so by buying an Australian professional’s board you'll be helping not only the individual, but also the brand as a whole. These smaller brands need your help to support their team who are putting on for Australia. It’s not easy to maintain a board or clothing company, especially on the other side of the world from the major skate industry.
Harry: It’s weird how there has been a lack of pros on Australian board companies for a period of time. I think if people get behind Aussie board companies doing this, people get psyched to ride for companies based in Australia. I always refer to England – when you go into a skate shop there, 95 per cent of the boards on the wall are local English brands, rather than it just being a bunch of US brands. How dope is that? If people support Aussie companies then there will be more local videos, competitions, demos and more support for skateboarders here.
What was the first pro board from an Australian brand that you skated, and what do you remember about it?
Mike: I had a lot of boards growing up (I was a bit of a board breaker), but I do remember having an Anthony Mapstone XEN board that Renton Millar sold me at PSC in Frankston. He put my trucks on for me and didn't tighten some of the deck bolts properly and my truck fell off when I got to the skatepark (laughs).
Casey: Probably Morgan Campbell's 4 Collage board, which was only just released recently. I rode an Alec Paul ABC board back in New Zealand. It was dope. Hella skinny. ABC was the shit!
Harry: I’d say it would have been a Kye Stanley Momentum board. He was one of WA’s dopest skateboarders.
When and how did you join The 4 Skate Co.?
Mike: 2006, just after the first 4 tour (thanks, Morgs). I was living in Frankston at the time and didn't own a car, so when I heard the boys were coming to Melbourne to skate I hired a 'rent-a-bomb' for the week so I could drive in and meet up with the crew. I had a great time skating with everyone as usual. I didn't expect to be asked to skate for them, but I was bloody stoked when I got the call from Brett.
Casey: Maybe four years ago now. Geoff [Campbell] showed Harry Clark a bunch of my footage (which eventually ended up being my ‘Cunnies Box’ part). Max [Couling] actually called me up on Harry’s behalf and asked if I would be keen (laughs). I didn't really know Harry back then. Later on Harry called me up and asked if I was keen to ride for them. I was tripping.
Harry: I'm not too sure, probably sometime between ’07/09. I got a phone call from Brett Margaritis asking me to ride for his company. When Brett calls you in a situation like that, you just say, “of course I will.”
What’s it like having Brett as a bossman?
Mike: He is the best. A bloody nice guy with a casual vibe, and the guy can do anything he wants on a skateboard. Skateboarding aside, he is a great dad and his relaxed approach to everything made me realise that starting a family isn't as insane as I'd once thought. Brett’s a good influence in many aspects.
Casey: Yeah, it's good, man. It’s pretty insane. I had a photo of him kickflipping on a rock from an ASM magazine when I first started skating. Maybe it was an SMP ad? It’s crazy how things work out.
Harry: He’s great. A mellow cat, but very hard working and down to get stuff done.
Aside from Brett running the show, what makes the brand rad to you?
Mike: Everyone involved with 4 are great people. As well as Brett, there's Ben McLachlan (another Aussie legend), Shawba [Dave Shaw], another top bloke, and Harry Clark is the TM. The team are all lovable legends, and the product is on point.
Casey: It’s a very selective team, which is dope. It’s rare that I come across someone who I think would fit the aesthetic. It definitely has a certain style that no brand can replicate. The company has been around for years now, and over time it has had some of my favourite skaters on the team. Alex Campbell, Will Ackerman and Bernie Foo to name a few, and the team right now is fucking strong. Also, the fact that if any of us have an idea for a board or graphic, it can actually happen. Louie Dodd does a bit of design work for them, Morgan just had his art collage board come out, and I had a photo collage board come out last year. They are always really keen to collaborate with the team.
Harry: Good designs and a dope team of like-minded skateboarders. Lately the team riders have been driving the designs, which I think is real cool.
Harry, switch crooks with the boys in tow.
What has been your favourite 4 video project in the past and why?
Mike: Filming for ‘The Perfect Amount of Lazy’ were great times. Knowing we were filming the first full-length 4 film was exciting, and to be able to skate with Morgs more than usual is always a treat.
Casey: I'd say ‘The 4 Family Vacation’, which is a clip we filmed over six or so days in Adelaide. It was just really good having the whole squad skating together. It’s quite a rare occasion, as Harry and Eugene [Stewart] live in Perth. The spots in Adelaide are really sick, plus I was just feeling good on my board at the time.
Harry: I'm not sure. Each video project kind of documents a time where you’re skating with a certain crew or filmer. I feel like we are lucky, because the videos we’ve made were filmed by Josh Roberts, Quentin Guthrie, James Robertson and Geoff Campbell. Those guys all know how to make skating look good, which is a fucking important thing.
Between the three of you, filming trips for '344' have included Melbourne, Perth, New Zealand, China and the US. What has been your favourite destination to film for this video?
Mike: NZ was the best. Good posse, good spots and good beer.
Casey: New Zealand was amazing. It was dope to go back for a couple of weeks. My highlight was skating Aotea Square in Auckland for the first time. It’s a huge plaza with all types of ledges and stairs. I had a good time there for sure. Also, just talking shit and drinking in the van with all da boys.
Harry: All of the trips were great, to be honest. Travelling to skate and film for a project is always the best.
What’s it like filming with Geoff Campbell? And how would you describe Geoff’s general modus operandi?
Mike: I get along great with Geoff and have great respect for what he does in front of and behind the lens. Filming with him is not unlike hanging out with him and just skating, which is awesome. It’s casual, which makes filming easier, because you have total faith he will nail the footy.
Casey: I love filming with him. I mean, it’s not usually just us two. Usually it’s a gang of us that go skating in the city. If I tell him an idea for a trick, he's straight up and will tell me if it’s worth it or not. If I get a trick that he's actually stoked on, it’s a huge compliment. He is very picky and isn't afraid to tell you if the trick was "stinking" or not. I’ve got mad respect for Geoff. He works his fucking arse off.
Harry: Geoff’s good to work with. He will tell you what he really thinks, which I think is the most important thing. He also loves having a beer whilst on the session, which works for me too.
Geoff is an absolute ripper in his own right. If you’re having a bad day on your board, is it ever strange in that aspect – like, “shit, I reckon Geoff could do this line better than I could at the moment...”
Mike: Yeah, but nah. I know he could do anything I can anyway (laughs). Once you accept that and move on it gets easier. It's the same as shooting photos with Moey [Jason Morey] or Jake Darwen. I can't wait to see the Aussie ‘Chomp On This’.
Casey: Not really. Everyone skates different. He can definitely do shit that I could never do, and vice versa. But yeah, I was trying a line at Chifley Plaza in Sydney for like three hours. When I was done, Harry tried a line there for another two hours. Geoff had now been filming for five hours total. As soon as the session was over, Geoff proceeded to put down his camera and do a waaay better trick on the out-ledge there than we did in our lines (laughs).
Harry: Oh man, yeah that's happened a fair bit. Between filming with Geoff and shooting photos with Moey, there's a high chance one of them could do a better trick than what you’re trying, and in way less time. A lot of filmers are amazing on the board. Funny little story; back in the day I was on a trip and Colin Evans was filming. I started trying to varial heelflip a double-set, only to be told Colin had done it three weeks before (laughs).
If you had to narrow it down, what was the most important spot or skatepark for you as a youngster?
Mike: Chelsea skatepark. Not so much the park, but the three-kilometre skate through the backstreets to get there from home every day after school, and most weekends, during my early teen years. The park is pretty sucky. Lumpy quarters and steep, abrupt hips. All-in-all though, I feel like the years I spent there were character building and that was where I met and skated with Jason Echazar, who ended up connecting me with Middsy through filming for the Blank ‘Vandals’ video. I had spent the years prior watching Blank ‘Dirtbags’ and looked up to the Blank guys, so you can imagine how chuffed I was to be able to sneak some tricks into the ‘Vandals’ video.
Casey: It’s hard to narrow it down, but growing up in a small town in New Zealand makes you appreciate everything a bit more. I used to see kids at Lincoln Square snapping and throwing their boards around. Just childish shit, acting like 13-year-olds. You’re at one of the best skate spots in the world and this is how you’re acting? I mean, we had a skatepark in Oamaru, but there was literally no good street spots at all. Kids in Melbourne are lucky to have all these perfect, smooth places to skate. I used to skate 40 minutes to the park after school on the roughest fucking ground just to roll at the park for 30 minutes before it got dark. I’m sure a lot of Kiwi skaters can relate.
Harry: First, I would probably say my box in the driveway. Then, Manning skatepark is where I would go most days after school.
Mike with a nicely executed boardslide up.
~ Mike Martin ~
You’ve been a busy bloke the past couple of years. You got married, had a kid and bought a house. How is the husband/dad/homeowner life treating you, and how did you manage getting out to log the clips for this video?
Mike: Getting married was awesome. We tied the knot in a brewery, of course. Buying a house seemed crazy at the time, but I'm glad we did it. Property prices have shot up since and we couldn't afford to live where we do now if we didn't buy when we did. Then my boy came into the world, which has made every day since a lot more interesting, in a good way. The first few months were insane and kind of a blur, but now he’s eight months old we have a better idea of what's going on and we’re really enjoying it. Filming this part has tested my time management skills, but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it. Geoff and Middsy’s time flexibility has made it easier to get clips for sure. I am surprised I was able to get out to film as much as I did.
You've been around a bit longer than Casey and Harry. What are the most significant changes you've seen through your years riding a skateboard?
Mike: The Internet, for obvious reasons, and skateparks. There are so many skateparks now ... it's crazy. I remember when Camberwell park was built and everyone in Melbourne was there every day because it was such a novelty, but now when you go there it's hard to imagine how excited everyone was over a lumpy bowl and bitumen flat in the street area.
You used to film with Chris Middlebrook quite a lot. What do you miss the most about skating with Middsy as often as you did?
Mike: We spent a good portion of our lives in his van scouring the suburbs, industrial areas and country towns for spots. He introduced me to most of my favourite music in that van, and we quoted Monty Python films flat out. We had the best time, and then we would find a new spot and get out of the van and have fun skating. This was before Google Maps existed, so he had a Melways street directory with all the spots marked in it. We would look through it for areas with no spots marked on the pages and go suss that area. Those were super good times.
~ Casey Foley ~
You and Geoff clocked up some serious hours filming at Lincoln Square over the years. What’s it been like since the demolition?
Casey: It's been all good, man. It’s fucking draining, but you’ve just gotta live with it. It was pretty fucked the day the demolition started. I felt like I was at a funeral or something. Ben Lawrie has uncapped a bunch of the ledges at IMAX, so that has been our plaza as of late, which I can’t complain about. It’s not quite the same, though.
How long ago did you make the move from New Zealand to Melbourne? What's the scene like back home these days?
Casey: About seven years ago now. The scene in Wellington is pretty sick. Christchurch is still recovering from the earthquakes, so the scene is pretty dead, I think. I don't think there is much of a skate scene at all in my hometown, Oamaru. Some kids skate the park here and there, but that’s about it unfortunately.
How's working at Hemley Skateboarding going? What do you handle there?
Casey: It’s cool, man. I work in the office two days, then in the shop two days. In the office I pretty much get all the product into the system, work out retail prices, discounts, forwarding invoices to the accountant, etc. Aside from that I just do the social media stuff, go over look-books with the store manager Simon and have a yarn with the customers. It’s really cool meeting people who you usually wouldn't talk to.
Do you ever find it tough to juggle skating with shooting skate photos, or does it usually fall into place naturally?
Casey: I haven't been shooting as much as I would like to recently, which is annoying. But yeah, before filming for this video it has all just fallen into place naturally. It’s been pretty 'business' orientated as far as skating goes leading up to this video, so I haven't really bothered bringing out my gear. I always have a camera with me, but when you’re carrying around flash stands and a bunch of lenses it can get pretty draining.
Harry with a wallie 50-50.
~ Harry Clark ~
How did you come to start working with Brett through his distro, FiveFoot4, and what parts of the business do you handle?
Harry: I started folding T-shirts and counting product when the other guys were too busy. Nowadays I do various roles for FiveFoot4 – whatever needs to be done I'll try to get involved.
Congratulations on getting engaged a little while ago. How did you pop the question to your lady?
Harry: I popped it on New Year’s Eve at a winery down south in Perth. It worked out well – I dropped the knee and she stupidly said yes.
You're also a new homeowner – life hammers! Where did you buy a house and what's it like?
Harry: It's in the northern suburbs in Perth, Greenwood. It's dope. In 30 years it'll be paid off (laughs), but it feels good. Working towards paying off a house is cool.
How’s the Perth skate scene at the moment?
Harry: Lots of crew are killing it at the moment. Justin Lloyd, Phil Marshall, Luca Prestini, Tom Bentley, Sean Parker, Frog [Paul Bruno] and Sean Paul all seem to be ripping on the regular.
Looking back on this project 10 years from now, what do you think will stand out to you the most?
Mike: Probably my beer gut (laughs).
Casey: Lincoln Square.
Harry: I guess with all video parts you film, it’s like a period of your life. Just going on these trips and getting to travel a lot to skate will stand out the most.