INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTOS BY ALEXEY LAPIN AND SERGIO ALVAREZ
The apple, the wizard, the beard…The tricks, the travel, the doubt by others…Fuck ‘em I say. When you’re right, you’re right…The only way to do anything is the best one can. Here it is again, one that makes it happen for one’s own beliefs, and proves the doubters wrong again… It gets kind of old; the idiots that have no sight of the future, or the talent that’s so obvious. This will always be the case, but will always be proven wrong… Mr. Haslam has, and always will be the one that has nothing to prove… Already it’s known, not many do what he can do, just a select few…Ride on Son of the Sword…. Roll on, and take as many prisoners as possible…
“I WANT TO SKATE FOREVER BECAUSE SKATEBOARDING CHANGED MY LIFE. YOU CAN’T JUST LEAVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT.”
Hi, Christopher. Right now I have security at my doorstep. They were watching me while I was talking to a guy on a flight from Dallas to Vancouver. I wanted to go through the x-ray machines and they wanted to pat me down.
[Laughs] Yeah. That security is kind of crazy.
The last time I went to Canada for the Machotaildrop thing, I didn’t have a work visa and they threw me right into that secondary line. I was like, “Oh, God.” I was sweating because it was so hot in there. Everyone else was totally calm and dry and I’m beading up with sweat.
[Laughs] That’s because you’re in peak physical condition. I hear you sweat more when you’re in peak physical condition.
[Laughs] Settle down. So I’m sweating because I have on a jacket and you can see them watching me like, “We’ve got a hot one.” The lady said, “Why are you coming to Vancouver?” I said, “I’m here to take a skateboard photo.” She said, “Couldn’t you come up with something better than that?”
[Laughs] It’s the physical appearance. You should have told her you were there for Machotaildrop and see if she would have understood what that meant.
She would have been like, “What is that code for? Drop the bomb?” I told her to check it out. She said, “Where is your skateboard?” I said, “I’m using one of… the company’s skateboards.”
You paused. That’s the first thing they see when you’re lying. You can’t pause. There is no pausing in skateboarding. Were you super confident?
I was getting into that country without a doubt. Then she turns away and she’s looking at something. I said, “C’mon. Just let me in. I just want to get in and get out.” She goes, “Hey, Bulky.” I said, “Are you out of your mind?” She was laughing at me. She said, “Is that your nickname?” I said, “Whatever.” She said, “That’s what it says right here.” She turns her computer screen and she’s got this interview pulled up on the computer. I said, “See those skateboarding photos?” She laughs, “Yes, Bulky.”
[Laughs] I got the Russian guy that didn’t want me to go through the x-ray machine. He wanted to pat me down 50 times.
[Laughs] It’s weird. The first time I went to Canada, when I was 16, it was the same. I go there and had no idea why. Someone said, “You’re going to Canada. Get on this plane. You only need your license.” So I got on this plane and they ask what I’m doing coming to Canada and I say, “Good question.”
I didn’t really know and I didn’t want to be there. The guy was like, “Oh, no. You’re not coming into Canada.” I was like, “Good. Put me on the next flight home. I didn’t want to come here anyway. I don’t even know why I’m here. I’m not lying to you.” He said, “You have a bad attitude, son.” I said, “Yeah, I do, and you have a bad job. It’s not my fault that you’re miserable. Don’t take it out on me. I just wanted to come here and skateboard for the kids. It’s all about the kids.”
That’s a good angle.
I said, “The kids are going to be disappointed, man.” Anyway.
[Laughs] Was that when you went on the Indy trip with us?
Yeah. It was just to realize that I never want to do that again. Wait a minute though. Why were we on the Indy trip if they wouldn’t even take us to dinner?
[Laughs] It’s because we were skating for the kids. The kids don’t need to see us eating.
[Laughs] No, but if we don’t have any energy, we can’t perform for the kids.
We have to be like camels with our food. Remember that steak Grosso ate. I think he ate the whole thing. It was like the leg of an elephant.
[Laughs] Right. Okay, now we’re going to do your interview.
Don’t get too serious though. You’re already too serious.
[Laughs] I paused.
It was a dead giveaway.
I need to inform you that I’m drunk too.
[Laughs] Well, I could have assumed that.
So where did you grow up?
Half of it was in southern London, Ontario, and the other half was in Singapore. I don’t know at what age you’re considered a grown-up. Is it 18?
Well, yeah. I guess.
[Laughs] I was 16 in dog years. When I was 17, I moved to Vancouver. Basically, I grew up in Ontario and Singapore.
Why were you in Singapore?
When we were in southern Ontario, my dad was working at the university there. He wanted to move, I guess. One of his friends went to Singapore and told him how great it was, so my dad got a job at the University of Singapore. That’s when we moved.
What did he do at the university?
He does kinesiology, sports stuff. When I heard we were leaving, I was at a track and field meet, in eighth grade. It was raining that day so I wore gumboots. I was trying to run in gumboots, and I was bummed because I lost everything.
What were you doing?
I was doing high jumps and triple jumps. I choked so hard and didn’t get any medals. I went home and they told me we were moving. I was like, “Oh, great.” I got super bummed.
You were a track and field dude?
Well, no. In eighth grade, you do everything. I don’t know if you can remember grade eight. Can you remember that far?
[Laughs] Yeah. I did high jumps too, in grade eight, bitch.
[Laughs] We should have a reunion and see if we can still do them.
[Laughs] Oh, sure. I can’t even jump six feet now. Did you do the roll or the flop?
I did the flop.
Of course. Who were the cats that you liked that were high jumpers?
I don’t know. I didn’t know anybody. I just did it because I thought we were supposed to. I didn’t know we could choose. They wanted me to run, but I was wearing these gumboots and everyone was making fun of me.
[Laughs] Why were you wearing gumboots?
Well, it was raining at the beginning of the day, so I was thinking they weren’t going to have the track meet that day. Sure enough, it was like a desert when it was time for the track meet. I just went for it with my gumboots on.
How high did you jump?
I can’t even remember. I just remember I was wearing gumboots. You probably skate in gumboots.
I don’t even know what gumboots are.
What do you mean you don’t know what gumboots are? Didn’t you go to school?
Yeah. I went to school.
Gumboots are those boots that gardeners wear so they don’t get their feet too muddy when they step in puddles.
[Laughs] Ok. When did you start skateboarding?
I got my first board on November 22, 1994. It was my brother’s birthday. He got one and I got one on the same day. It just went from there.
What brought you into skateboarding? Was it the skateboard or were there people skateboarding around you?
There was one guy that skated in Singapore. He was this French dude. He lived in our neighborhood, but he went to a different school. We’d see him skating around. He had the meanest mongo push of all time, and he could only do heelflips.
[Laughs] So that’s where you learned it. I remember seeing you push mongo all around England. What kind of skateboard was it?
It was a Santa Cruz. My brother had bridge bolts on his. I was bummed out that I couldn’t get them, but then I realized that they were terrible.
So you were stoked at the end.
Yeah. I was good. My brother got a Real board with the San Francisco city skyline on it. That was the sickest thing ever.
How old were you?
I was 13.
So you were just skating around Singapore? Did you think it was cool?
Yeah. There wasn’t really any scene there. There was one guy that had a shop there that he opened in the ‘80s, so we just skated in front of his shop. There were times when there were five or six kids out there.
Were you just farting?
[Laughs] No, that was the door shutting. I wish I had that kind of pronunciation through my butthole.
[Laughs] Maybe I will after eating all of that meat in the casino.
[Laughs] Wait a minute. Do you eat meat? I thought you were just a vegetarian weirdo.
I eat meat. You never pay attention to what I eat, Steven.
[Laughs] All I know is you were eating apples whenever you could on that tour. It was like, “Look. Haslam has another apple.”
Actually, when the Russian guy was patting me down, I had a banana in my coat pocket, and he pulled it out.
[Laughs] Oh, that freaked him out.
Yeah. So we just skated around the local shop in Singapore. The shop owner wouldn’t even sponsor me. My brother and I were the only white dudes skating. The other guys would come and go, but we were always there. Finally, I asked him if I could get sponsored and he said no. He sponsored this other Malaysian dude I skated with all the time. We were at the same skill level, but the shop owner said no. That was me getting used to my first denial in asking for sponsors.
[Laughs] That was your introduction to rejection.
[Laughs] Yeah. It went on through today.
Yeah, but you have your own truck on Indy. That’s ill.
I know. That is sick. I don’t know what I did to deserve that. I’m just psyched that it happened.
In Singapore, did you watch skate videos to see what other people were doing around the world?
Yeah. They were like three years behind in Singapore though. The first video I watched was Vanishing Point from Invisible Skateboards. Over in the States, Welcome to Hell was already out on Toy Machine. We were like 100 years behind, but I didn’t know the difference because I was 14.
Did you just fall in love with skateboarding?
Yeah. I did a bunch of team sports, too. My dad was really heavy into soccer, so I played soccer all of the time. I played basketball in school. As soon as I started skating, I stopped everything else.
[Laughs] What did your dad think of that?
My dad blamed skating for me not being a professional soccer player. He was pretty good at soccer, but he chose to go to work instead of pursuing it. He blamed skating for me not being able to go into professional soccer and making a ton of money.
[Laughs] Yeah, but now is he stoked on your skateboarding?
Yeah. When I first told him what was happening, he was bummed, and then two years ago he got really bummed because I was making more money at skateboarding than he was at work.
Ouch. That hurts.
Then he got another job in Abu Dhabi and now he’s kicking my ass three times over. Well, he’s winning now, but, hopefully, I’ll get ahead in a few years because he’s close to retirement.
When you skate, do you have a competitive edge from doing team sports as a kid?
I think that’s always been in me. I think it’s in every skater. Otherwise, you just fizzle away. I like the feeling of doing something that I’ve never done before. You never do that without that drive, unless it’s lucky.