Read on for our exclusive interview with Neil Smith. I first met Smithy years ago in the Cawdor Crescent living room when this house was the Blueprint HQ. He was with Chewy and Fisher and they were all just beginning to embark on filming missions around our capital with Dan Magee. Ever since then he has been steadily destroying established London spots and seeing potential in ones where others wouldn’t. This interview unfortunately met Smithy whilst plagued by injury but we’re glad he had time out to answer these questions and keep us up to speed with what’s going on in his world…
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Photo: Sam Ashley
You’re out of service right now Smithy! What happened to you? When are you back in action?
Yeah I’ve fractured my foot, I was doing a boardslide that stuck and as I jumped out I landed on the corner of a wall then fell in to a prickly bush. The doctor said i’ll be in a cast for a month, but I think less, we’ll see. Not sure how much cod or viva tv i can take..
For a risk taker like yourself you’ve been fairly lucky as far as injuries are concerned, am I right?
I’ve been very lucky with brakes/fractures but as for rolled twisted sprained ankles not so lucky. I’ve rolled my ankles so many times in the last few years it’s unreal. It’s the most frustrating feeling knowing you won’t be able to skate for the next month or two. It hurts more knowing that than the injury itself, I’m sure most skaters out there know that feeling..
You grew up in Essex, what other types of high jinx filled your time when you weren’t skating?
When I was a kid i did nothing but skate all day everyday but then grew up a little and I guess like most teens you start chasing girls/drinking/smoking and they were good times for sure. A lot of my friends stopped skating around that time because they got too involved with all that stuff. After that it was all about driving about in your cars, smoking etc. Driving up to Southend doing the strip, hanging out in MCD’s car park or round the back of Asda. Pretty shit really, good job i was already sponsored at that time or I could have easily stopped skating and my life would have been very different.
Many of your friends you grew up with don’t skate, is it refreshing having nights out where skateboarding is the furthest thing from your mind?
I think we are all prone to talking shop after a few beers ha! Yeah it is nice sometimes not to talk about skating all the time. With all my Essex mates its more just about abusing each other and talking shit, one or two of them keep up to date with skating and ask if I’ve seen the Berrics and stuff like that, but then I do love nights out talking shop at free beer skate parties!
You’re based in East London now, how is it living there as far as skateboarding goes?
It’s great, I love living in East London. I’ve been here for 7 years now so skating has to be pretty good. It’s the best place to skate in the country for sure if you can see past how busy it is, security and the tube. But there’s a countless amount of spots, many still to be found and always new spots getting built every week!
You had Jerome as a house mate/partner in crime. Are you missing him since he re-located back to Sheffield?
Yeah man! I miss him. I gotta live with 3 girls now ha! Na its good having your mate as your flatmate, you have your moments but going skating everyday wether its on the streets or even just down the park is cool just don’t let him get angry when he’s drunk or he could turn on anyone, I would know!
What’s your ideal crew to go out skating with? Who is a good motivator?
I’ve been going out with Kev Parrot a lot lately which is cool cause he’s just down to film and always up for a mission, very motivated! Jak Pietryga is always a good dude to go shredding with, good for the banter. Rob Matheison and Jensen for a skatepark sesh, Aswell as Karim and Morph, them dudes can bring the hype unless they’ve smoked too much or not even enough.
Kicker to van ride. Photo: Sam Ashley
How did you feel when Blueprint disbanded, did you know it was on the cards?
It was sad a thing to happen the way it did, it could have been sorted but some/most including me were so over it at the time that it became unsaveable. Even when Blueprint was still Blueprint I was getting asked to ride for other companies and i would tell them to give it a few months and see if Blueprint can sort it out, but it turned out that other riders had other plans. Shier quit and that kinda sealed the fate for everyone else, everyone decided it was the end of the Blueprint chapter for us and time to move on. It’s gonna be very interesting to see what they do with the company and the new team.
Have you had offers since then from companies sniffing around? Is there a home out there as far as a board company sponsor you feel you could fit in with?
I had my fair share of offers which I was quite overwhelmed by but I feel that I’ve chosen the right new company for me and I feel comfortable with my 5 team mates. Can’t wait for the next chapter to get under way.
What are your plans for 2013? Are there Nike trips on the horizon?
My plans are to get out there on a filming mission with my new company working on a video/web clip, also working on a project with Morph and Kev. As for Nike SB trips coming up I can’t say, maybe get sent to a few comps but first i need to get over this fractured foot.
What trip during your time on Blueprint do you have the fondest memories of?
Ah man, theres so many to choose from! I’ve had so many good times with the Blueprint lads in the past 10 years! Every one of our traditional trips to Mallorca were classic, but it would have to be the one to Finland where our host hired a cabin in the woods and just fed us with booze. It was just a crazy experience, hot tub parties/feeding bears/skating and just having a great time, I know Dan Magee has some great footage of Shier which will probably never see the light of day.
Which video was the most fun to film for?
Thats easy! Lost and Found. We were on tour every month going to some crazy places that I would never have imagined going to. It was just a great experience and a great video to be a part of.
What are you filming for right now?
Right now I was supposed to start filming an introduction clip for my new company that had to be done by the end of the month but I’m stuck in this cast till April, so that won’t be happening. Thanks to Kev Parrot we handed over what I had filmed so far for his project over to the new company so now I have to start afresh for Kev and Morphs thing.
Backside 50-50. Photo: Lex Kembery
What is the best City to skate in your opinion?
Too many to chose from, of course you have Barca! but thats a bit cliché. I really liked SF and Melbourne when I was out there but for skating i’d have to say Shenzhen in China just because there are so many spots and all of them are brand new! Just a bit too far to travel to but worth it.
If you had to leave London where would your first choice in the UK be as a second home?
Oh that’s a tough one! I wouldn’t want to leave the South East really but I do like going to Leeds, I’ve spent a lot of time up there as my lady lived there when we first met and it’s not too bad for skating either.
You’ve repped Slam for a long time, do we do a good job of looking after you over here?
Yeah you guys do a great job of helping me out, its appreciated. I actually don’t think i’ve ever been asked to ride for Slam, I think it’s just always been assumed on both parties haha. I’m stoked to be apart of Slam City and the Slam City of Rats video!
What video game is firmly in the console right now whilst you’re in your sick bed?
Fifa 13 but mostly Call of Duty ‘black ops 2’, the new map pack just came out so i’ve been smashing out the new zombies level with Danny Brady who’s also getting over an injury himself.
Who have you seen on your travels of late out there killing it we may not be aware of?
Not really on my travels but a couple of the kids down at mile end are getting pretty good, don’t wanna say their names as their heads are big enough as it is. There’s also Vaughan Jones from up North, he’s one to keep an eye out for as well as Mike Arnold. He’s got mad skills! They’re both currently living in Leeds.
Can we trouble you for a good Dan Magee story?
It’s Magee with stories on everyone else never on him, ask him for an interview on stories I’m sure you’d get loads of classics!
What can we expect from Neil Smith in 2013?
Just hope it’s better than last year. I want to get back on my board and see where it takes me, try and be my best and get as much done as i can!
Wise words for the kids?
Chase that goal! stay humble, don’t get ahead of yourselves, keep it real and show some respect to each other. Or just do what you want!
We would like to thank Neil Smith for taking the time out for this interview and for being a solid memeber of the Slam City Skates Team for the longest time.