Our first-ever ‘Visuals’ interview is with Chewy Cannon. This new feature takes stock of the fact that we as skateboarders have a world of visual stimulus floating through our minds at any given time…
words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Chewy Cannon jamming in Anguilla on an Uncle Ernies Rum Co pilgrimage
We have been bombarding our visual cortex with new information ever since we first picked up a magazine, or watched a skate video. Some images fade through the sieve of time but some will be forever clear and accessible. They’re the ones we are after. For this ‘Visuals’ interview, and all others following, we will be asking some of our favourite skateboarders to select a video part, a trick, a photo, and a graphic that are imprinted on their memory.
Knowing that Chewy usually steers clear of interview situations and is somewhat reticent about ‘selling his single’ we have put doing something for the blog on hold for a little while. However, I knew from many chats over the years how passionate he is about every aspect of skateboarding. That’s why this interview format seemed like the perfect fit. It felt like the vehicle that could bottle some of that Chewy energy by getting him talking about things he loves. We approached him with the idea and he came back with a solid selection almost immediately. We spoke when he was fresh back from some Uncle Ernies Rum Co business in Anguilla. It was great to hear what he had to say about these golden-era visuals that have made an impact on him…
Guy Mariano – GIRL SKATEBOARDS: MOUSE (1996)
I started skating in 1995 and saw this a year later. I had four videos on one tape that my mate recorded for me and Mouse was one of them. The tape also had Welcome to Hell, Playing Fields, and an old Powell video on it. I used to watch Mouse religiously, you couldn’t watch the Mariano part on my tape by the end of it. I ended up buying it on VHS afterwards at a later date. it was so banging, and so was the music. This Guy Mariano part is just iconic, and so is Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock.
Guy’s trick selection is so ahead of its time. I think everyone who saw this video at that time feels the same way, it’s just a breakthrough part. It has the “which way does he skate?” vibe more than any other section. There are so many tricks which stand out, the switch tre at the start of the line. The switch-pop-shuv switch-crook at Venice beach is banging. The line with a flatground heelflip in it, the line with the turnaround at L.A High. It’s full of amazing moments. Guy Mariano set off switch crooked grinds being an essential, that was definitely a trick I learned because of him. The trick at the end of the video though, the switch front shuv switch crook on the little rail! Fuck knows why that isn’t in the part.
This was the part made me want to learn to skate both ways. I’d only been skating for a year at this point so I was trying to figure out what was possible. I couldn’t work out how he made his switch skating look the same as regular. I would have been stuck looking backwards at the time. The bushy hair out the side of the cap all came from this part too, we all had a bit of that, Baines definitely ran that. Cap to the back, slightly twisted to one side, everyone was guilty. If this were to come out now and make the same impact it made on all of us, he would be the biggest influencer of all time basically. That part would have generated a lot of followers hahaha. He is still out there too killing it, it’s crazy, and it’s an inspiration. It is people like him who have me thinking I can still do this, and I’m 40 now. There are still some good years left in the old legs yet.
“If this were to come out now and make the same impact it made on all of us, he would be the biggest influencer of all time basically”
This is also how I got into so many different musical artists too back in the day. Apart from some punk music in 411 back in the day most videos had good soundtracks especially Girl productions. I really loved the FTC Penal Code soundtrack too, and the music in Trilogy.
I also want to say that when first watching this, I had a good teacher at the same time. Greg King brought me up and schooled me on what tricks were good. It would have been Greg or his next door neighbour Danny Bucklee who made me that tape to start with too. I was lucky, there were probably only eight skaters in Great Yarmouth but four or five of the were heavily into it before I even started. They were well schooled and already making little videos and stuff. Greg always had a camera and was filming, I had a good start and I still feel blessed for that now.
Bobby Puleo – FTC: Penal Code 100A (1996)
It would have been a little bit later on when I first saw this video. Mouse, Eastern Exposure III, and this FTC Penal Code 100A are my favourite three videos of all time. I was always so amazed by this trick, how the fuck did he do it? It was like Spiderman or some Mario brothers shit to me. I wanted to be able to do that. I had only been skating a little while and it was just inconceivable. In such a raw streetskating way too, it was a spot that people just weren’t going to go to. I always loved that about Puleo, a true street skater scouring for his own spots. This is pure ‘eye of the beholder’ shit though, nobody was stepping to that. It’s incredible, and it’s actually massive when you look back at it. You’re inclined to believe it’s smaller but it’s not.
I also love the switch frontside wallride he does in this part, with the look back. I can think of loads of tricks that I have been inspired by but this was the very first one which came to mind when you asked me. I loved that video, and I loved that part. Good tune [“Caravan” by Van Morrison ], good skater, good fucking trick. I think this influenced me a lot, it took a little while to rub off though. I couldn’t skate to that sort of level when I first saw it and wouldn’t have been popping out of my tricks till way later. Once I learned how to pop out of 50-50’s properly I started experimenting. There have been a few things where I have done a 50-50 and popped over a gap to crooked grind or to backside nosegrind. I have definitely filmed a few bits off the back of it, thinking something is Puleo-esque and wanting to do it because of that.
“I was always so amazed by this trick, how the fuck did he do it?…that Puleo trick definitely ran through my head a lot when I was coming up”
I think over time you develop your own style, your own way of doing things and don’t think about other influences so much when you’re skating. I do remember back in the day though, I would always be humming tunes in my head, or thinking of a certain skater while doing the same trick as them. The classic one is humming Gino’s tune from The Chocolate Tour while doing a nollie heelflip. But that Puleo trick definitely ran through my head a lot when I was coming up.
It’s funny actually, my mate Greg King was the one who had this on video, I borrowed it off him and managed to break it, something happened to one of the reels. I told my mum my mate was going to kill me because I broke his video. She said it was okay and that she would give him some money to get a new one. He ended up taking the old one apart, splicing it back together, and keeping the money my mum had given him, hahaha.
Ali Boulala kickflips at Sidewalk HQ. PH: Andy Horsley (1997)
This photo is from a year after both of those videos so we’re in the same exact era. That is just the period of time that sticks in my mind the most. It’s always the way, when you’re younger you are just absorbing stuff so much more and it really leaves an impression on you. Those are the things which end up becoming nostalgic for you. This photo captures a whole time for me. I remember opening the mag, seeing this photo, and thinking, that’s me in the house trying to break my mum’s floorboards! It was so sick seeing that, I was probably getting high somewhere, trying to skate in someone’s house while it was pissing down with rain.
In my house I would just skate in the hallway as you come in the front door. There was some carpet down there and I would constantly be trying to skate while my mum was shouting at me to stop skating in the house. “Just one more go mum, I nearly did it. It’s raining”. I never actually built anything in the house. Me and a couple of mates would skate the side of the bed though, learning to bounce out back off the mattress. I always loved that photo of Boulala, it summed up a piece of England for me. We were all well up for it but it was raining all the time.
One trick I did walk away with from skating in my hallway was hardflips. I was always checking to make sure it flipped. I would also always be wondering if it was fakie or forwards. Sometimes you would land a step backwards depending on how you flipped it. Maybe they were fakie hardflips, or fakie pop shuvits, one of the two. I had a friend who really liked freestyle, a bit later on we would skate indoors together in his house. I’ve still got a few funky random primo tricks from back then. The neighbours used to fucking hate us too. They would be banging on the wall for us to stop. We couldn’t stop though, we were addicts, hahaha.
“I always loved that photo of Boulala, it summed up a piece of England for me. We were all well up for it but it was raining all the time”
My friend used to have this Ali Boulala picture from Sidewalk up on his wall. He looks so dope here when he’s super young. I wasn’t aware of who he was at that time but it’s obviously amazing to see where he went from there on, it adds some more weight to the photo. At that point in time I was also heavily influenced by the Playing Fields video and anyone on that. Frank Stephens lived quite close to where I was from. I had seen him at Sprowston school gym in Norwich. That was the indoor option for us, they would drag out the ramps. People like Ben Rodriguez, Mat Fowler, Nik Taylor, and Frank used to come now and again. Watching them skate in person back in the day was a big inspiration. I could see there was a scene and knew they were skating for companies and making it happen.
That was our indoor spot in Norwich but you could only skate there on Saturday because it was a school. We used to break into warehouses back then. Yarmouth is pretty industrial so there were lots of spaces by the docks, old hangers. We would break into them, clean all the shit off the floor and skate there for weeks on end. That was always an adventure, climbing through a window to get in and building our own ramps, the good old days.
Chocolate Skateboards Portrait Series by Evan Hecox (1997)
I clearly remember these boards coming out. My mate Harlow had a picture of the whole series on his wall and I remember thinking it was amazing. I never actually had one of the boards unfortunately, I wouldn’t have been able to afford one at the time. I would have been skating Powell blanks and STM blanks because they were half the price and I was going through them. I just remember thinking those Evan Hecox graphics were sick, they have always stuck in my head.
Look at those boards – such an epic team line up! The faces on top of the flags just looked incredible. I really loved Girl and Chocolate, they were the bollocks back then. It was kind of like looking at football players cards or stickers. I would have loved to have had that collection. I am so grateful to have grown up through that period of time. Nothing feels quite so special any more but that could just be me being old.
As far as graphics that I have had which meant something. I loved the Blueprint ‘investigation’ series when it came out, I always thought those boards looked sick. My favourite ever board would probably be my first pro board, with the Sizzla graphic. I just had that picture of Sizzla on my wall when we all lived on Gaywood Street. Lev [Tanju] came to the house for a party, I think it was my 30th birthday. I asked Lev that night if I could have that picture on my first board and he was like “yep”, hahaha. That’s exactly how that happened, I still love that graphic. I like every board he has done for me to be fair but that one sticks out, it was the beginning too, so it’s nostalgic again, like everything we spoke about.
Chewy Cannon’s debut pro board for Palace Skateboards. From his wall in Elephant & Castle to board walls everywhere
We want to thank Chewy for taking the time out to do this interview. He has been busy rehabilitating a torn ACL and MCL for quite a stretch now. For someone who has fiended for skateboarding since he was twelve, this has been a frustrating and challenging time. We were pleased to hear that slowly but surely he has been rolling again. We wish him a speedy re-entry and look forward to the gift of new Chewy footage in the not so distant future.
Thanks to Neil Macdonald (Science Vs Life) for the Sidewalk magazine scan of Ali Boulala. Thanks also to Tim Anderson at Bobshirt for sending the photo of his recently completed series of Chocolate Portraits boards. Be sure to check out our Bobshirt interview by Farran Golding from 2020.