Find out more about the descent into madness. Chris Pulman is our business manager here at Slam CIty Skates. He managed the Slam Covent Garden store for many years when Rough Trade was still in the basement. He also worked for Jamie Thomas at Black Box for some time. He was pro for Heroin skateboards, riding for them from the day it was dreamt up in a hospital. Chris would often take the skate from the store to Southbank over Waterloo bridge for an afternoon roll around. This is how we know the journey time is 7 minutes.
Not much has changed in this regard other than the destination, from our current location Mile End is a 7 minute cycle away. Immersed in skateboarding, with a keen eye for detail and a strong idea of what he likes Chris has taken the obvious next step. Descent skateboards as an idea has been bubbling away for a while but some boxes arrived the other day confirming the company as a reality. We thought now was a good time to find out about this new project and what we can expect to see in the future.
Chris PulmanFrontside feebles the Corner pocket of Stockwell. PH: Lex Kembery
Lets start at the deep end. Explain the journey of Descent as an idea for a company through to the design stages…
Well, I’ve always wanted to do something of my own in skating. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of Heroin Skateboards, Slam City Skates, Black Box and Palace in various roles: from rider to manager, sales guy to production guy. I just really wanted to do something with all of those skills and apply it to something I have a passion for.
We just carried in the first shipment of boards are you happy with the results?
Man, I was so excited when this stuff finally arrived. There’s so much involved in making skateboards, keeping an eye on quality and then finally shipping the things around the world that when you finally get the things in your hand it’s really satisfying. I literally had a bit of a moment when I was setting up the first one. They came out exactly as I planned… I think every shop that took them on sold one or two straightaway. That’s pretty inspiring.
What sizes and shapes are on offer and what was the thought process behind the graphics?
Right now it’s really small-scale. There are just three deck sizes 8, 8.1 and 8.3. Next batch will have an 8.5 and maybe something bigger if there’s demand. The graphics are really very simple. If you want to get something recognizable out there it makes sense to go with logos so the guys that buy these things can be proud that they’re in some way part of something and can show that. Wheels and tees are next, maybe something a little different too…
The Descent flourish is really just an image I’ve drawn my whole life and has always meant something or other to me at various times of my life. You could philosophise it to death but maybe it’s just illustrative of a journey and life’s twist and turns…
Explain where the inspiration came from for the font you used…
People have been querying my choice of font for this first run. From a graphical design point of view, I don’t really blame them. Luckily I’m not a designer so I don’t give a monkeys. I like it and the guys who understand Descent like it; they’re really the only people I have time to be interested in at the moment. The font itself is just a reference to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series of books that I love. If you know the stories, you’ll understand why I used it. The word is more important than the font, of course.
Who have you given boards to so far? Is anyone confirmed as riding for you?
So far the confirmed riders are Curtis Pearl and Tom Tanner. Both these guys have something different to everyone else from my point of view. They stand out at a skate park or whatever before they’ve done a single trick. That’s what I want to champion in skating, being a little different and having an eye for things that maybe someone else doesn’t have. There are a couple of other guys I’m talking to but I’m not in a rush really. I’d much rather wait and attract the right kind of skaters than dive in waving Benjamins trying to hook up the heavy hitters haha!
I think everyone that buys a Descent board is a ‘rider’ to some extent. They’ve bought the board for a reason and I want them to feel like they’re part of something. I want them to take that board and go do something rad with it.
You decide your own level of involvement…
Is there anyone out there you would like to give boards to?
You saw that silly old Plan B ad I ripped, right? Basically, all those guys would make the ultimate skate team. They’ve all got skill and inventiveness. The guys with all skill and no inventiveness, well, that all starts looking a bit ‘sports day’ to me… In fact, I’d take inventiveness over technical ability every time. I like guys that contribute something to skateboarding as a whole, you know?
We know you have been experimenting at home making leather goods. What have you learnt to make and will any home made items tie in with the company?
I’ve made a ton of different things from belts and wallets to iPhone cases, satchels, bike bags, skateboard carriers, wristbands. Leather is rad to work with. You don’t need that many tools and those you do need are really cheap. Whatever you make is pretty much going to last a lifetime. It’s kind of time consuming and therapeutic too so you get a real satisfaction when you finish something.
Where do you feel Descent fits into skateboarding’s current climate?
It’s a small company run by someone who cares and has a passion for skateboarding past, present and most importantly, future. There are lots of companies out there; some are really good with interesting riders, great videos and art direction and good product. A couple, even have all three factors… I just want to do something a little different, appeal to a slightly more thoughtful skater and contribute something.
What is out there at the moment that you feel is exciting and what makes you worried about the future of the thing we love?
I still get hyped on seeing new tricks and inventive skaters. Dudes like Chris Milic, Austyn Gillette, Mark Suciu, Dill, Westgate, Grant Taylor. I like to see guys that challenge not only the public’s perception of a skateboarder but also a skateboarder’s perception of a skateboarder too. I’m sometimes concerned that skating will get so homogenized and mainstream it’ll lose everything that’s truly interesting and unique. The last thing it needs is to become an established ‘sport’. There’s plenty of rad guys out there so that’s not gonna happen, I’m sure but it’s worth bearing in mind.
You said you were tripping out the other night setting up a board that you had made. Is it something you wish you had done sooner or is now just the right time?
Maybe this is the right time you know? I’ve been waiting for a ‘lightning bolt’ or something that’ll inspire me to do something and it finally just came in the form of a skateboard company. The feedback I’ve been getting proves to me that there are some really interesting guys out there in the skate populace who are looking for something a little different with a little bit of thought behind it and a solid ethos. Nerds maybe, I don’t know, haha! They’re the guys I’m hoping will gravitate toward Descent.
Are there any future projects that you would like to hint at or any people you are looking to work with you can speak about?
Well, I’m sure I’ll be doing all the formulaic stuff like web clips, promo videos, etc as and when the content becomes available to make those things. There are lots of artists and riders that I’d love to work with who seem to get what I’m trying to say here. I think the most important thing is to just get out there and get on with it. To get skating and talking to the right guys and build this into what I think it can be.
You currently frequent Mile End and had a large involvement with the Haslemere park being built. Even harking back to Southsea when you were at Uni skate parks have been a constant. Where would you say is your favourite English park and why?
Haha! That sounds like I never get out of the skatepark! I guess I do skate parks a lot these days. That’s a part of having a kid and a reasonably busy job I guess. Lots of short bursts of shredding in between mid-life crap. Skateparks are kind of a lazy way to skate eh? But, that said, you pretty much get a guaranteed good skate. Stockwell, Stockwell, Stockwell… When I was thinking about the design for Guildford and Haslemere I was thinking about Stockwell with more street obstacles. Jeremy D did a great job of designing the upgrade of Stockwell. Loads added, nothing taken away. It could do with re-surfacing right now but apart from that it’s the park I’d call home. If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mike Manzoori, Reuben Goodyear or Pete Helicar there, count yourself blessed…
Where have you skated on your travels that you would like to see re-created on home soil?
Damn. Fort Miley, That jersey in SF in the summer of ’97, Love park, City Hall, FDR and Drexel – Philadelphia, A bunch of spots in Delaware and Wilmington. Maybe Sadlands too as I never got to go there..
Do you have any involvement in any future projects you would like to talk about?
I’d like to have a good level of input into Haslemere part II. I’d love to design skate parks. There need to be more avante garde ones I reckon. Right now nearly every park in the country has similar aspects. If they were all dramatically different I think guys would want to travel more. If I win the lottery, the solid marble mini will become a reality, I swear!!!
Outside of that, everything I want to do in skateboarding is outside of the usual remit of videos, mag filming trip article scene. It’ll take some convincing but I think I have a couple of fellas on board…
Your son has started to skate recently, this must be amazing. Are you enjoying this teaching experience?
I’m not sure. Part of me would love him to skate, part of me warns me off pushing him. He’s way more gymnastically able than me, I guess he gets that from his mother; I was a lump as a child. Skateboarding opened up a whole world of interesting crap to me. I’d be some famous biochemist or architect by now if it wasn’t for skateboarding. I’m very, very glad of the path I chose…
Any advice for the younger generation?
I’m not sure if the younger generation really want to any advice, good or bad from one of the older guys, you know. I used to assume that older people should have good advice to give, purely on lessons learned from mistakes and experience if nothing else. The truth is, older people often give bad advice and are often less flexible to new interpretations. Make up your own mind I say. By all means, gather all the info you can but make the decision your own and one that you can live with for the rest of your life. I’m always of the opinion that you should try to do pretty much everything once in your life, you’re only going to get one try at it. Be happy if you can and live a fulfilling life you’d be proud to look back on. Oh yeah, and the thing the grandpa says to Dwayne in Little miss Sunshine…
Keep on truckin’