Vaughan Baker has ridden for us for many years now and been an integral part of the UK scene for more than a third of his life. Unfortunately injury has enforced time out on more than one occasion, this is almost no surprise when you look back at just how gnarly some of the stuff he has done in his video parts is. We find out in the interview which follows what he is up to now and gain some insights into what has transpired in days gone by…
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Portrait by Mark Jackson
You recently bowed out of the professional skateboarding ranks after a brief stint skating for The Harmony. How and why did that take place?
The main reason for my retirement was purely through my knee injury and not being able to skate to the best of my ability anymore. I always promised myself that once i couldn’t progress at that level any longer i would duck out of skateboarding at a professional level and just chill. Plus getting my new job. I don’t wanna be that team manager guy trying to come up and be on the up with my team etc. Those guys suck to me! Ha ha!
You went from manning a coffee bar fairly recently to working for the guys over at KR3W and SUPRA. How did that come about?
Yeah I was running that coffee shop in Rough Trade East for way too long man! Throughout that whole period i was having various knee surgeries and just trying to get by you know? KR3W and SUPRA were flowing me throughout that whole time and i was hanging with the team when they were here, going on a few trips and Ali would come stay with us a fair amount. I just got to know everyone inside out i guess. So when the Job came up i got offered it. I’m still so fucking hyped on having the chance to do this! Feel so lucky man.
What is your role there?
EU skate-marketing co-ordinator for KR3W and Supra.
You’ve been on a bunch of trips with those guys recently. What would you say are the best and worst aspects of van life?
Bad points?? em… trying to get those fuckers out of bed and moving out skating everyday mostly, oh and making sure they gets their weed in. Without that shit some of them ain’t getting on life standard! Ha ha ha! Really though there is nothing bad about it. If i’m honest, its all good! Fucking awesome in fact! I feel so blessed with what i’m getting to do at ONE Distribution. I really couldn’t think of anything better to be doing as a job and in my life right now! I’ve spent the best part of my time being a skateboarder, travelling around the world doing this shit, so i feel i’m well trained in doing that side of my job already and essentially this is all I know, live and breathe.
360 flip from above. PH: Mark Jackson
How is it going on tours with Penny and the whole team?
Well we did that European Tour last summer as i mentioned with everyone and it was one of the raddest times ever… Not without constant stresses of course. But the whole of the SUPRA team are fucking legends man and handle their shit so well, mad professional and hyped to be out there doing what they do. That tour as a whole was 19 days in total and in that time wether it be 4 hour signings, 5 hour long demos or street skating between and or everything at once, everybody was there jamming, skating and just having a good time every single day killing it. Personally i feel that SUPRA has the best fucking footwear team out there right now, no bias, just the fucking truth!
Have you got any trips lined up for this year?
Yeah a bunch. I guess the EU teams are coming together good, we have a banging bunch of skateboarders out here so i’ll be out with them a bit and then there’ll be a Summer tour which the US guys are coming over for too. It’s going to be a sick year… I can’t wait to get on the road with everybody again!
You’ve been back on skating again recently after a bad injury. What happened to you?
I fell funny jumping down some gap basically and took my knee to pieces. That slam ruptured my ACL for the second time, tore both my MCL and PCL and blew out my meniscus. Like i mentioned before I’d blown my ACL once before which i’d had fixed privately and was sweet, got back skating again. But this time i went with the NHS and after series of fuck ups, 3 operations and 2 and a half years later I can skate again. My knee’s still pretty shot but i still feel lucky that i can get out and skate a bit now you know! Im sure it’ll get better i just have to remember to take my time and not take any risks. Plus i work for a company that has some of my favourite skateboarders ever onboard and i get to see these guys put down in real life, couldn’t ask for more!!! It was a pretty tough time tough looking back… it was like breaking up with a long term girlfriend or something ha ha ha, We’re taking it steady again though …no marriage or kids just yet!
Do you find it frustrating or exciting getting back on your board after a time out?
Erm yeah a little frustrating because i can’t do shit these days ha ha hah ha ..i mean i really miss jumping down shit a lot!! The whole rush and energy i used to have is different these days.. But like i said before i’m lucky that i can get out there and have a push around. Some people get ended skate boarding so i’m fucking stoked just to roll, skate flat maybe get a little further on at some point!!!
Some of your artwork was used for a bunch of Blueprint products. Do you still paint nowadays?
Not really actually. I’d love to but i just don’t have time! Mainly because I sponsor Lucien Clarke so I waste most of my spare time in life waiting for him!! Dipshit.
Back when you lived in Worcester you and Toddy had a teenage vert skating career. What was that like and where did it take place?
We used to skate Radlands vert a lot together ..that is true!!! I actually got in on some vert comps there too back in the day! Toddy was talking about this in his interview eh?? I always promised myself that i would Mctwist one day ..blew that opportunity ha ha. Toddy had it too though he was known to get some backtails and frontside airs padless back then. Shit that was fun man we used go to the park and skate the vert first because after everything else in the park seemed small!!! Also looking back further. When i lived in Bristol i used to session the vert there too with Alan Rushbrooke, Mark Channer and Mike Manzoori when we all lived together.. Mike Manzoori fucking killed a vert ramp man,so good!!
Pop Shuv levitation. PH: Chris Johnson
Have you got any funny stories from early skate trips to the US with Toddy, Peplow and co?
Ah man way to many! I think that trip was really formative for all of us! But my one favourite is when i was in Arizona. I’d jumped in a car one morning from Warner Ave still wasted over there with a few heads. I was staying with a bunch of locals in Tempe i think it was?? One day one of the guy’s that lived in the house where we were staying at (im sure his name was Brian) had got in a crash on the way to work and had arrived back at the apartment in a Neck Brace all bummed (dude was a bit of a douche). His work had supplied him with a hire car so he could get to and fro for the week.
I remember that day clearly. He pulled up in the car park of the apartment, got out and started talking about the drama to all the other house mates at the apartment. He left the car going! (I was hanging out with Scott Copalman a lot at that time and that day he was there.) I just remember us both seeing the car keys in the ignition, looking at each other, getting up, jumping into the car shutting the doors and speeding off. I reached over switched on the stereo and Metallica started playing.
We proceeded to drive around the block into the next neighbourhood, tearing up all over the front lawns of the houses over there. We reached a corner and cut across the lawn there. As we did there was a guy and his son raking up their freshly cut lawn. I just remember looking back and seeing him run to his Pick-up and start after us!..We drove straight through the park across the road and swung a doughnut to lose him. It didn’t work and it turned into a full on car chase..Funny thing is myself and Scotty sat in pure silence..Just Metallica blasting from the stereo and this guy chasing us. We carried on for what seemed like 15 minutes making our way out to the high street where the apartment was across from.
I can’t remember properly but we managed to pull a U-turn and lose the guy at a set of lights, each of us giving the bird as we pasted by him in the opposite direction. We pulled back into the car park of the apartment. Everybody was still too busy chatting shit about Brian’s neck brace that nobody had even noticed the car or us missing. We parked up, got out the car, sat on the curb and pissed ourselves laughing. Everytime I see Scott we talk about that story!
First Broadcast was a landmark video. Could you describe that time? In my memory everything was a lot more exciting back then.
It seemed like it was all to get back then! I’d just got on Blueprint and was coming down to stay at Cawdor Crescent with Magee for months on end. Missions with Nick Jensen, Colin Kennedy and Paul Shier mostly.Sometimes Frank Stephens, sometimes Olly Todd.
It was rad. All the spots in the city hadn’t really been killed that hard so you could go out and film three or four NBDs pretty easy. The crew was sick too. Somedays there’d be six or seven of us filming, getting shit done.
I guess that day at London Bridge stands out a lot to me. It was Toby Shuall, Frank, Jensen and myself and we all were sessioning the stairs. Towards the end, it started driving me kinda crazy. I had to go solo on missions with Magee [laughs]. Now, that square mile seems straight rinsed to me but back then there was so much shit to skate. You could meet either at Viccy Benches or Shell Centre, end up vortexing the whole day, then maybe venture out into town. Southbank wasn’t even really that considered for us at that time.
Vaughan’s part from First Broadcast (2002)
How did that Slap cover come about?
I’d met Joe Brook a bunch when he was in Europe so when i went to SF it seemed natural that I’d end up out with him shooting. That day i’d planned to join him, Rodrigo TX, Danny Wainwright, Anthony Claravall and others to go out to San Jose to meet up with some of the locals there to film and shoot. We hit a few spots and ended the day at that kicker!! I dunno man i still find it crazy that i got that cover! As far as i was concerned i was a complete unknown outside the UK at the time. Still get hyped when I stumble upon on it when im going through my shit at home.
What time was the most fun during your stint as a pro for Blueprint?
From 2001 to 2006. At the time i turned pro for them it was like the brand was in overdrive. Off the back of WFTW it seemed like the world had begin to see the UK finally as a respective part of the global skate scene, Blueprint especially. We did so many sick filming trips all over I can’t really pin point one particular. But our yearly stints to Majorca were always a fucking blast man! Everyday waiting in the car for Palmer to finished wiping his arse then driving around skating all day, logging footage in the evening and having a good drink before bed, then doing the same the next day..high times! I love bumping into everybody these days and chatting shit about the old days. I had lunch with Magee and John Fisher yesterday actually. It was good to catch up with those guys it had been a while.
What trip in the last fifteen years stands out as the overall best?
Phew way to many and all for so many reasons!! Personally it would have to be last years SUPRA Eu Tour. Personally being in the position to be responsible for taking a majority of my favourite ever skateboarders around Europe and see them kill it and have a good time was a real, big, personal achievement in my life as a skateboarder.
Are you going to let your girlfriend buy a Lama?
Ha …NO! ..Trippin’
How do you feel about the state of skateboarding today, do you think it’s got better or worse since you started?
Erm ..pretty mental!..The shit some of these kids can do these days is outrageous and the outside interests from corporate brands is mental. I think it’s a very interesting time for our industry and art. To me it seems like we’re at a pinnacle of where it can go forth in view of so many mainstream interests. One way or another I know that there will always be that pure sect out there shredding that carpark at midnight just for the love and motion of being free on a skateboard and that is what keeps the heart of skateboarding young and alive. All’s good out there!
Do you have any advice for kids starting out today?
Do it right!
Thanks to Vaughan Baker for taking the time out to answer these questions.