Everybody could see it in downtown LA. It had all of the ingredients for pain. It was high. It was long. At that period, that's all I was thinking, pushing yourself physically to the absolute limit – because I knew that at some point I was going to be old and decrepit and I wouldn't be able to push my body that far. I looked at it and went, I'm going to come back and I'm going to do this.
When I got to the spot, it was heavily guarded. The first thing I did was I timed the security guard. It took him 9 minutes to go around the whole building. I thought, if I give it one shot, it's probably three or four minutes. So I got two or three goes, and I almost had it. But it's the same every single time, I go and ride up to this thing and it throws you down fast. It busted up my hip and my arm and my ribs. And right when it did that, I'm like, I'm doing it the next go. I'm going to go faster, I'm going to go further. I'm going to make it.
That's how confident I was that I was going to make it that go. Go full speed, head down, focus. And that's what I did. It was the first spot that I skated of that magnitude.
I grew up in Liverpool, England. It's a rough city. Parts of it are old, parts of it are new. We really didn't have the luxury of smooth floor and painted curbs. We'd fall and we'd get cut. And in street skating, you're a product of your environment.
I've abused the living daylights out of my body since I was 13 years old. I've broken a load of bones. I've had lots of surgeries. Smashed my teeth out three times. Been knocked out multiple times. And I'm going to keep doing that to the day that I die. We all have our weaknesses. And my weakness isn't physical pain.
People don't care. They want you to get back up when you're dead and do it again. From your heroes, you want blood. From the people you aspire to be like, you want energy, creativity, success, progression. My body is a vehicle for me to use. So if my body can handle it, I will push it.
There was nobody in the shipyard. Just one guy. He moved them to where we needed them. The container gap was 50 feet off the ground. It was a 80 foot run up. A 40 foot landing. A 15 foot gap with a two foot drop. I almost hung up the first go. I almost died.
And so that was it essentially. I didn't want anyone there. I don't want a medic. If I fall I want to die there. You know what that's like? It's a second of absolute, I'm going to die right now. But you need to push your body as far as you can go to not die. That's what that spot was. I always feel like that. I feel like that right now. I wanted to do the gnarliest thing ever. That's just in my DNA.
For me, the idea of that was okay - if I fall I'm going to die. Commitment and confidence to getting a trick that requires full speed, requires all your physical energy and all your mental capacity. The commitment to the trick can really be the difference between you walking away, or you going straight to the hospital.
I'm a street skater, so I drive a lot. I'll go places where everyone goes and I'll try to look at things different. I'll look higher up. I'll look down below. I go around car parks. I'll go wherever I need to go to try and find a spot to do a trick that I've never done before. It’s an interpretation of architecture. It's continuously searching for skate spots. Big or small. It's constant.
Anyone that's dedicated and just completely head in to what they do - whether you're a musician or an artist or a professional skateboarder or a surfer - if you don't look for it, you're not going to find those things that other people don't know about. If I don't look every day for spots and find them, I'm done as a skateboarder. I’m not going to push skateboarding to those places further than it's been.
When I was a kid I used to sleep with my skateboard. I would lay in bed at night, and I would visualize myself being able to do the tricks that I was watching in skate videos. I would watch the way the guy moved, the way that he controlled his board. And I would lay in bed with my eyes closed. Just visualizing how I could do that. In this body. What did that look like? How could I do that?
I still do that. It’s the same now as it was when I was 13 years old when I first started skating. It takes the same amount of time preparing mentally to commit as it does for the next person. The difference is what you do at the time when it's go time. Your brain needs to show up and you need to want to skate.
The commitment to getting the trick can be a difference between life or death on some of those bigger skate obstacles. That's the truth of it. Commitment is the key to progression. And if I forget that then I'm going to cease to progress. I'm going to cease to be me.