Featured rider: Josh Monk

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Great chat with Josh about the World Cup races in Australia, his art and the whitest teeth in longboarding.

Hey Josh, where are you from?
Hi there! I’m from good old Essex in England, but my life is nothing like that damn programme!

What programme?
You know…. ‘The only way is Essex’ it seems to be the only reference people have to it nowadays haha

You have a vajazzle?
No, but I’m working on my Penazzle, Maybe I could Flash it at other competitors on the start line to intimidate them?

Where did you start skating?
When I was in Nottingham about 3 years ago, I was at Uni and lived there for about 5 years. I’ve only become a skater in my adult life!

What got you into it?
Well, I used to ski every winter, and I wanted something with the same kind of stoke levels that I could do for the rest of the year, I’d seen a few people cruising around on longboards, so I started watching videos on youtube. It wasn’t really as much a form of transport when I was learning, like a lot of people say, it was more that I wanted to go fast downhills, and learn to slide to control my speed, like I’d seen in the videos. Then I got hooked and didn’t ever want to put my board down.
You went from 0 to downhill overnight?
Haha not quite, but I did go straight to a hill to learn, just carving and footbraking at first, then trying to push out the back wheels to make the board slide slightly, there weren’t really any other longboarders around when I was learning, just some friends cruising, I guess I was taking it a little more seriously than others, It wasn’t until I took my board on holiday to Lanzarote, that I really started to go fast, I took a helmet, and made some slide gloves from garden gloves, and Ikea chopping board (yes they manage to have an Ikea on this small volcanic island!) I watched the videos then just went out to the hills in the midday sun, whilst my girlfriend was chilling on the beach, and learnt to slide! I lost a lot of skin, and she had to be my nurse, bless her she had deal with a lot, thank you Chloe Blount! This didn’t deter me, I wanted more. I met a few local longboarders and we went for a session, but they thought I was mad because I was trying to slide.

What did you ride in the beginning?
I rode a mindless pintail, got it complete for 60 Quid, didn’t really know what wheels or trucks did what, but loved it. I learnt quite a few things on it, got mad death wobbles, but it was fun, especially once I got more confident.

You’re a proper ranger! How come you were so focused?
I guess, its because I had finished with the wild Uni lifestyle and was just working, I needed something else to get stuck into. I’m quite intense when I start new hobbies, I get fully immersed in it.

Are you still in touch with the guys from Lanzarote?
No, that would be funny to meet them again though. One of them was a windsurf instructor and he’d put a mini sail onto a longboard, a lot of fun, full on Rufio, Peter Pan style.
Where did you skate after your Nottingham days?
Well Nottingham was really it, and where i was based until I came here to Australia, but we did a lot of travelling all over the UK to meet other crews. This is the part of the story where I met the great English gent that is Oliver Jepson. We were doing the exact same thing in Nottingham, like in our own little parallel worlds, skating hard on our own and looking for others to share the stoke with, I was online looking for other local skaters and came across the ‘Leicester Longboarding’ Group on facebook, I left a comment there saying i wanted to meet up as there wern’t really any other skaters in Notts, and I noticed that literally the day before Oli had left the exact same comment, so obviously I contacted him straight away, and from then on we were like best skate buds, going out all the time, getting massivley stoked, learning new stuff and getting injured! Both going back to our worried girlfriends and getting blood from our road rash all over the sheets, haha oh dear, funny times.

We formed ‘Nottingham Longboarding’ to branch out, and a fair few longboard enthusiasts came out of the woodwork. We started to travel a lot and meet other skaters/crews around the uk, mainly in the midlands to start with. This is where I experienced more downhill stuff, going out with the ‘West Midland Speedborders’ and trying to follow them down hills on my Tan Tien (mad wobbles but didnt fall off!) whilst they were riding Evo’s! Pretty much bought a second hand downhill board (Landyactz Chinook) the day after. Then we met the infamous Joe Baldwin (with probably the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen on a skateboarder).
 He came over to Notts for a session with us, we were pretty wowed with his skills and how hard and fast he skated, he was shredding our spots to pieces, he basically inspired us to really push ourselves, and introduced us to the wider Race/outlaw scene in the UK… The Banditos, Bo Peep, Hog Hill. Etc

On a scale of 1 – 9 of teeth shine, Kati Torrabella has a 10
I’ll have to do a quick google search, excuse my ignorance…..
 Wow! That’s some next level Whiteness, Marisa Nunez’s are also pretty impressive, but she is from Miami to be fair. Joe’s for a Brit are impressive, I think his permatan accentuates them as well. ha

Who is Oli Jepson?
Who isn’t Oliver Jepson? He is a master of wit, A professional Rupert Everret Lookalike, Most definitely the best Plumber in the UK, (if you’ve got a leak you know where to go), An international Longboarder and Man of Mystery, the list goes on and on. He’s also a damn good friend, and I really enjoyed learning to skate with the bloke!

How did your initial exposure to other crews/riders outside Nottingham influence you?
It was great, meeting the UK family of Downhill, and it helped push my skating further, I started going on skate trips abroad, European freerides, UK IGSA (Bo Peep) and even my first IGSA world cup races, Kozakov (Czech Republic) and Inusl (Germany), Scary stuff, but so fun, the hills in Europe are Epic, Mountain Passes everywhere you look.

You were commuting from Nottingham to Europe?
Yeah, either driving my Mark 3 Golf (what a car, never failed on me!) or Oli Jepson’s ‘problematic’ Land Rover! Which I believe he swapped for a packet of biscuits in the end.
How was your first competitive season?
So so good! Met and skated with so many awesome people, Got to mention the old Turn 360 crew (my sponsors last year) and some rad times tearing it up in the weird and wonderful Welsh Mountains. In Europe, I got to have some rad times with the Bandito’s we all know who they are (Mr Aaron Skippings, Oli Slaughter and Juan Griffiths). I also got to skate and hang with the Pro’s, couldn’t keep up with them mind, I’m doing a bit better this year after my season skating in Australia and New Zealand.

When did you decide to go down under?
I’ve always wanted to spend some time in the southern hemisphere. I thought that doing it from a skateboarding point of view would be a great opportunity. Before the winter just gone I decided I wanted to carry on skating in the Sun and escape the harsh wet UK winter. So I came here for 6 Months to do what I call a ‘Skate Season’ pretty much what people do when they go off to do a snowboard season in the Alps or Canada, working and living the lifestyle (skating most days and working in the Industry, so you are completely immersed in the scene).

What have you been doing for work?
Lots of stuff, it’s been great, I helped build the new Hopkin Skate shop (which is the main longboard shop in Australia based here in Sydney) It was a great shop anyway, but they needed to expand, and by gosh they really did. It’s now in the same street, they just moved the shop to a warehouse premises a few doors down which is 5 times as big, definitely now the biggest skate shop in the southern hemisphere and possibly now the biggest in the world!
 I’m a freelance Artist, so as well as doing general building stuff, I also left my creative mark on the shop, they commissioned me to do hand painted mural on an awning made from skateboards above the front door! They also asked me to customize 30 plain white polystyrene manakin heads that were to be used for the helmet display, this was great fun to do and the people loved it, especially the Groms.

Define ‘’helped build’’
Demolition, Bricklaying, Painting/Decorating, Installing Shop fittings and Fixtures. I also learnt to use a jackhammer! Do it if you ever get a chance I didn’t know it could so fun. The general shell of the shop was there, it just needed some alterations.

I thought Ishti did all the painting!
Oh Ishti, wonderful Ishtar Backlund what a sweetheart, her and Marisa Nunez, both great chicks. They came over to Australia follow the world cup races, Ishtar is a brilliant Artist, her work is now all over the walls inside the Hopshop (nickname for the Hopkin skate shop) She has done a lot of work for all kinds of big longboarding brands, she is only 20 and is a great skater too. I met the Girls along with a load of other radsters, (you know who you are) on the New Zealand N-tense D-Centz tour 2012, which is basically an Epic skate journey around Gollum’s backyard. So many good times and memories. Marisa is such a skilled skater, and a rad chick, I’ve never bombed hills with a female skater this good, she just won both the world cup races, and was beating quite a few dudes down the hills, although Lea Robertson, Australia’s number 1 female skateboarder, is very close behind her! Go Girls.

 How did you get involved with Hopkin?
Well firstly I met Travis Horsfall (was the editor of Heelside skate Magazine) on the Euro World Cup tour, he was my first exposure to the Ozzy scene. Through him I had made a great contact, and from there I met his good friends, and now my good friends Dave Robertson (aka Robbo, Legend and Manager of the HopShop) and Lea Robertson his sister (who also works in the shop) who as I said above is Ozzy number one, an amazing girl and heavily involved in the downhill scene both womens (running special events) and mens. So it was a natural progression to become involved with Hopkin.

What did you have planned for your 6 month holiday?
Nothing really other than I was just going to go with the flow, arrive in Sydney skate and work as much as I could, and check out the scene in NZ also. It’s been better than I could have ever imagined, I’ve learnt so many new things, met so many great people, and seen and skated some awesome places.

How does skating there compare to skating in the UK?
Well it’s all year round here, which reflects the size of the Scene and Industry, and the talent of the skaters. There is no ice/snow or relentless rainfall to contend with. They also have such an ingrained surf culture, so it’s very popular. Slightly more style here than us Brits (we’ll get there) when it comes to skate fashion etc, sun and surf just backs that up. There are endless smoothly paved roads here (good old ‘hot mix’) not much of that ‘chip seal’ they like to throw down in the UK. New Zealand has a lot more Mountain Pass roads, but the surfaces are much more questionable (as they have a climate like ours) so much less are skateable, but my god when you find them you won’t be disappointed!

You mentioned earlier that you had a sponsor. When did you pick up your first one?
It was Turn 360 longboard shop (based in Wales) at the beginning of my race season and throughout last year, thanks so much to them great guys. Now NEWTONS SHRED (best longboard shop in the UK right now) for my 2012 season. I’ll be looking at more company sponsors in the future I’m sure.

How was racing in Australia?
So much fun, Mt Keira is in a beautiful setting, basically like a mountain rainforest, near the coast in Wollongong the site has a traditional camp ground, which is an awesome place to stay and Party!  Just watch out for the leeches (oh the leeches) if you’re camping and its wet! The road is a fun windy track, not technical, just fun to race on.

Newtons Nation in Bathurst is a much faster race about 65mph top speed, fastest I’ve ever been on a skateboard (and down a real car race track), and much more intimidating. As you stand at the top of the hill, looking down the crest, it just looks like it drops into an abyss, and the concrete walls either side don’t help, no soft hedgerows or grass, just a few bails then walls. Although over the weekend, it seemed that everyone’s skill levels improved massively since the last year. So there were far less crashes and injuries, and by the end of it we really had the hill dialled and we were just freeriding it for fun.

Also need to mention all the little races and events I did before the world cups during my time here, great outlaws, giant slalom, ditch racing!

They were also definitely the most well organised races I’ve ever been too, those ASRA (australian skateboard racing association)  guys have got it on lock.

What has been the highlight of your time down under?
Wow, thats a REALLY difficult one, so many good moments, all I can really say is you have to come and experience it yourself!

What are your plans for the rest of the season?
Next is the UK IGSA race Bo Peep, followed by some touring of the UK for outlaws and smaller events, maybe a Euro Freeride, then finishing up With Peyragudes World Cup Race in France, which is a brand new road never raced on, and super fast apparently. Can’t wait, got the bug for going really fast after Newtons.

I just need to say I’m sorry if  there are people I haven’t mentioned, you’ve all been amazing and helped me along the way.

Lucky! Peyragudes sold out so fast!
Yeah 1 hour, fastest ever apparently! but I was up 5am Ozzy time with my credit card at the ready.

One last question- Pick 3 numbers between 1-26
7 11 21

7 – What is your favourite meal?
Anything Thai

11 – What’s your favourite website?
A Shameful one

21 – Would you pick the red or blue pill?
Definitely blue I’m not a fan of red

Haha awesome stuff. It has been great catching up with you Pommy Josh! See you in London for a skate soon?
Sure! Great stuff, thanks a lot. Now I’m gonna go and pack for my flight back to Blighty!