Sam ‘Ske’ Fairweather is a young lad from the Central Coast who washes dishes for money, drinks milk by the litre and swears a lot. A self-described “weird dude”, he has an eclectic bag of tricks and a thick Aussie accent. I’d never met Sam before this interview, and his mates described him to me as a “bogan”, a “toy” and a former scooter kid – titles he doesn’t seem to be too worried about. In fact, Sam gives off a vibe of being pretty comfortable with who he is and what he’s doing. This straight-up honesty is refreshing, especially at his age.
Interview by Nat Kassel. Photos by Cameron Markin. Taken from Slam issue 215.
180 to switch manual.
So you’re almost 20, what have you been doing since you finished high school?
Pretty much nothing, hey [laughs]. I dropped out in year 10, or maybe even before year 10. I just stopped going. I was working as a car detailer for a bit, but that job sucked, so now I’m doing full dish-boy shit at the Crowne Plaza in Terrigal, which is sick. I’m still living with my parents. They’re the best, they’re chill as hell. I think I’ve filmed four video parts since school. The Grim Ways video was a whole heap of fun and the video I filmed with Jarred McElligott – Two – was definitely one of my favourites. He’s a real good mate doing real cool things.
What do you do outside of skateboarding?
I pretty much just skate and work. I’m pretty fuckin’ boring [laughs]. I’ve got mad OCD, so I clean my room a lot. I’m not sure if that counts as a hobby, though.
What kind of OCD shit do you do apart from cleaning?
I’m just OCD in general, really; I do the whole scrape my board on the ground before a trick, and make sure my socks are pulled up and shit. Stuff that shouldn’t bother anyone bothers me when I’m trying something.
What’s it like working as a dishy? Is there a lot of getting yelled at by angry chefs?
Yeah, all the time. When it’s busy they suck, but we’re all pretty cool with each other. I get asked to do stupid shit at the end of the day, so I kinda lose my mind a fair bit. It’ll be 10 minutes before I’m supposed to finish and I’ll get asked to change the oil for the fryers and sweep the floor. Shit you should ask someone to do an hour before they finish. Once I got asked to change the deep-fryer oils and I had like 10 minutes to do it. The sucking mechanism – the bit that sucks the dirty oil out – broke, so 35 minutes later I’m done and covered in oil ’cause I had to do it manually. At the end of the day, that’s the last thing you wanna do.
Do you reckon you’ll get into chefing later on, or is the dishy life just a temporary way to make some cash?
Nah, no way in the world. All the chefs tell me it’s pretty much 24/7 pressure, and they all wig out, so I’ll probably steer clear of that. I’m pretty much just there to make money. It’s not a bad job, but I’ll probably get fired soon due to the number of plates and shit I smash. I’ve dropped full stacks of plates before, like 30 plates straight to the floor [laughs].
Barley grind, down, across, down and out.
Tell me about how your dad got you into skateboarding.
Well, I used to ride scooters, but I got yelled at by one of the older skaters at my old local and decided it was probably time I started trying to skate. Dad would always take me out skating ’cause he was so down for it. Every single day we’d end up at Narara [skatepark] after I finished school. Dad would rip on me a fair bit for scootering, always trying to push me to skating, and then it finally worked. I’m so glad he did.
So your dad’s an old shredder?
Yeah, he’s been skating for ages, since he was like 18, and he’s like 50 now and still rips. He’s a full bowl dad, but a padless, no helmet, 12-foot-bowl craziness one, not one of those ‘padded up yell at his kids’ ones. He’s gnarly – does some crazy backside airs.
A lot of people tend to rebel against what their parents do. Was there ever a point where you didn’t want to skate because it was your dad’s thing?
Nah, no way, I always rated it. I was just scared to try it. I’ve always looked up to him, and Mum, too. Mum loves it, she’s so for it, it’s crazy.
Switch beanplant pole jam.
I heard that you grew up in a warehouse with a skatepark in it, which is like a fantasy for most kids. How did that happen?
Yeah, in West Gosford, it was so sick. It had like an indoor balcony and I had a slide that went from my room to the front door. There’s a YouTube clip of me sliding down it in some old part I filmed. Downstairs there was a flat bar and a quarter pipe that dad built.
Was it tough times financially back then?
Yeah, that sucked. It was nearly impossible to find a house, but Dad came through with the goods and sorted it out. It was illegal to live there, but we got away with it for three years or so. I think Dad’s old boss was a stitch up, and he got over it, so all of this shit happened and we were in a shit situation.
What was your dad doing for work?
Dad was doing scrap metal recycling to make a little bit of cash to get rent out of the way, because living in a factory was expensive as fuck; like, $400 a week. He’d be working every night from like 8pm till 3am, out on the streets collecting scrap metal. It pays really well, but the hours are horrible and so are the majority of the people that do it – junkies and bogans, really. But Dad used to smash it out every week and kept a roof over our heads. I’m forever grateful for that. We were in a pretty heavy position but it all worked out in the end.
What’s West Gosford like?
West Gosford is an industrial area, so you aren’t legally allowed to live there. We lived in a block of four warehouses and the dude next door sucked. He was a tiler so he’d be cutting and making tiles at like 6am. He had a mad attitude, too – was noisy as fuck – but I remember he didn’t have a password on his Wi-Fi, so I ran it out. I managed to go 17 gig over his monthly allowance. He never knew it was me. We never got along, so it was a good way to stitch him up [laughs].
Frontside bigspin from bank to street.
I heard you’re really hyped on Gosford. Is that mainly for the skate spots, or do you just love the area?
Oh man, don’t even get me started on Gosford. It’s honestly the best place ever; great people and even better spots. Everyone hates the spots ’cause they’re all rough as fuck, but I grew up skating there every weekend so I just learnt to deal with it. I’ve had plenty of junkies try to bash me and shit, but I still love Gosford to death.
Speaking of rough spots, tell me about the switch roof drop where you flipped upside down.
It was just a 180 over a roof gap onto this weird little toilet block and then I was trying to drop off it switch. The roof was kinda soggy; the paint on it was heaps old so it was kind of soft. I kept saying to myself, That won’t happen, I won’t fall off that. Anyway, I landed on one and it stuck and I fell forward. I don’t know how I didn’t land on my head. I was fully ready for it. Luckily I didn’t die.
I heard you learned to skate tranny goofy, then when you started street skating you started skating regular.
Yeah, it’s weird. I learned in a pretty spastic way. I just didn’t really know. I started trying tricks without really thinking about which way to do them. I learned how to roll around goofy, which felt comfortable, but it felt more comfortable to ollie regular. I dunno, I can’t complain.
I guess that’s helped out your switch game a lot.
Yeah, it’s weird, I feel a lot more comfortable bombing a hill switch.
Does that mean your switch tricks don’t count?
I dunno, I guess I just learned tricks in different ways, so maybe it doesn’t count. I just do tricks whichever way I can, really.
I’m just fucking with you a little bit.
That’s all right, I cop that shit all the time.
Do people give you shit about it?
I’ve had people say shit to me and I’m like, “All right, sorry.” I kinda just don’t care.
How ’bout that switch 180 boneless at The Rocks [Rail]. Tell me about that.
That was kind of an impulse thing. I just thought, Oh yeah, I’ll give it a shot since we’re here. I didn’t really take into consideration how high it was. It took forever. I was there for maybe two-and-a-half, three hours.
Texas plant off the wall.
The boys were supposed to be spotting cars for you, but they weren’t doing a very good job, right?
Oh man, I’d go to try it and look down and there would be a car underneath me; it was fucked. On one of the attempts I went to go for it, but this car pulled in front of me and it ended up being two undercover cops. They were pretty rude. They kept saying, “You fucking suck, you’re a bitch, just do it.” Then I’d try it and they’d be like, “You would have got it if you didn’t suck.” I said, “Yeah, all right.” Then they were like, “OK, you’ve got one more go.” So I tried it and didn’t land it, but they just drove off. It was so strange. I was ready to get kicked out but they left and I kept trying it. I was waiting for them to come back but they never did and I eventually rolled away.
Have you had many run-ins with the cops?
Yeah, you could say that. I got arrested once for giving the police a fake name when they were trying to fine me on a train. They took my name and then they left and came back and they were like, “Nah, you’re coming with us, you gave us fake details.” So they put me in this holding cell and cut my shoelaces in half. I was like, “I’ll just take my shoelaces out,” and they were like, “Nah, you could kill yourself with these, we have to cut them.” I was only detained for 20 minutes but I had to wait another hour-and-a-half for another train back to the Central Coast. I ended up just walking around Hornsby at two in the morning with no shoelaces.
Your mates told me that you’re the ultimate bogan. What makes you a bogan?
[Laughs] Fucking oath, I just talk a whole lot of shit and say really unacceptable things. I hate footy and all that shit, and I’m a real clean guy, but I should probably tone it down on the swearing considering every second word is vulgar as fuck. I’ve tried to tone it down for this interview, ’cause they probably won’t wanna run it if I talk like I usually do.
And apparently, you really like sculling litres of milk, what’s up with that?
I’ll buy milk over anything; I love it, just straight, plain milk. I try to drink at least a litre a day. I prefer milk over beer and all that shit. I don’t know, I’m a weird dude [laughs].
Do you drink chocolate milk or just the plain stuff?
I drink all kinds. But mainly iced coffees and plain milk. I’ll pick plain over flavoured any day. I’m drinking a one litre bottle right now, actually [laughs].
I saw some footage of you skating a ledge with a death drop on the other side. How do you get in the headspace to skate something like that?
I dunno – to be completely honest, I wig out a fair bit, but in the end you’re gonna die somehow anyway, so [you] may as well just risk it all for the fun of it. I’d rather die skating than some lame shit, like getting hit by a car or the flu or something.
When your board shot over the edge you were just laughing. How do you laugh at that?
[Laughs] I don’t know, I find that shit funny. I think being close to death is sick, not in some fucked up weird way, but it’s like a rush. Doing dangerous shit is fun.
Was that the closest you’ve come to death?
I dunno, I’ve fallen off roofs and shit before – just more dumb dangerous shit I get myself into. Actually, I swallowed a screw when I was four and almost choked to death.
From what I remember I was just an active little kid; we’d moved into a new house and I was just desperate to find something to play with. After being left on the empty floor I managed to find a screw stuck in between the carpet and the wall. Apparently, I thought it was edible. I tried to swallow it and it got stuck in my throat. Mum heard me wheezing from the other room and just flew in and shoved her hand down my throat and carefully reefed it out. If she’d gotten to me any later I probably would have died [laughs]. Cheers for keeping me alive, Mum.
What does your mum do?
Oh, Mum’s a legend, she’s a stay-at-home mum, which is rad ’cause she hooks me up with clean clothes every day. She’s always been down for skating. When I was 15, I’d always try to sleep in and wag school. She’d wake me up at eight and be like, “If you’re gonna wag school you’re not staying here. Go to the skatepark until school finishes,” and shit like that. Harsh but effective [laughs].
How old were you when you moved out of the warehouse, and where does your family live now?
Fuck, it would have been like a year ago now, so I was 18 or 19. We’re just up in Erina now, 10 minutes from Gosford, which is tight. We live in an actual house now, which feels weird [laughs]. We’ve also got seven cats and one’s Instagram famous. Its name’s Angel and it makes it onto calendars and crazy shit like that.
Have you ever travelled?
I just go to Melbourne a lot, to be honest. I really like that place. I’m planning to go to The States soon ’cause that’ll be a really good time. NYC is a dream, too, eventually. I’d move there if I could.
What’s your plan for the future, skatewise?
I’ve got a part I’ve been working on with Gnardoll [Brendan Gardoll]; I dunno how long that’ll be, but I’m stoked as hell on the tricks so far. I just wanna keep doing weird tricks and have a good time, really.
Would you ever move to a bigger city to focus more on your skating?
I’d love to eventually, I really wanna push it. Sydney is up there with Gosford in my books and I really like Melbourne, so I’ll definitely end up there in the near future.
You just got sponsored by Vans, right?
Yeah, I’m on flow now. Cam [Markin] hooked that up for me, which I’m very grateful for. I just shot heaps of photos and filmed heaps of tricks and sent it out. I didn’t expect much of a response, but I guess I got one, which was really good.
Congrats on that. Got any other life plans beyond skating?
Full dishy for life, yeah brah! Nah, just kidding. I might try graphic design or something, but maybe I don’t have the brain or the patience for any of that shit. I’m retarded as hell [laughs]. I definitely want to end up in New York for a long period of time, though.