Fourcheck: Luke McKirdy
Interview by Chris Sumers, Intro & Photos by Shaun Mefford
I spent a lot of time growing up in Austin as a kid. I skated downtown and other spots, but I never really knew anyone here. Within the last 2 years, just like in Dallas, I quickly connected with those that make up the Austin skate scene. Being 30, I naturally gravitated toward the older guys, but I still spent a lot of time with the young ones. Who else was I going to take photos of? Shirtless dudes with a Lonestar in one hand doing smith grinds on a mini ramp, or dudes ripping? Not many guys in their late 20's and early 30's still street skate regularly in Austin, but a few do. One in particular is Luke McKirdy. He is an Englishman who could care less about an image or what you think. A quiet and private person once you get to know him, and a mid 30's all terrain destroyer. He is probably better than you'll ever be and is still learning new tricks...with style. For instance, he just learned switch front hurricanes the night I wrote this! When he started popping up in our montages, photos and sequences, everyone started asking "who the hell is Luke McKirdy, who does he ride for"? We felt it was appropriate to give you some more insight into our friend from across the pond. Enjoy! - Mefford
Chris Sumers: So, let's start by clarifying a few things first. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Luke McKirdy: I was born in Brighton, England which is on the south coast straight down from London about 60 miles. I was born in Brighton, but I grew up outside of Brighton like three miles away in a village called Rottingdean. It had a duck pond, a windmill, and all of the quaint English stuff you may think of. But pretty much Brighton was the town near me. It was pretty English, about as English as you can imagine. I lived there until 21.
CS: So you were 21 when you came to the US?
LM: Yeah, right around there.
CS: where did you move to from Brighton?
LM: Huntington Beach. All of the Flip dudes who I knew from England, the company owners Jeremy Fox and Ian Deacon, came out right around then. In like '93, they brought the company to the US. They knew Per Welinder, so they did it under what was then just Birdhouse and Hook-Ups. Then Flip came there and they formed Blitz Distribution. When they first came, they lived in one of Per's old apartments which I never stayed at. Shortly after that, they got another apartment. It was Deacon and Fox living in one room. Andy Scot and Geoff living in another room. Downstairs was Rune and Penny. Rune lived under the stairs pretty much. Penny lived behind the couch. I came and stayed with them along with Ali Cairnes and various other English dudes. I came for like three months. That is what you got on your passport and visa stamp. Then I went back for three months, then bounced back and forth for three month intervals. Finally, I came back for 6 months...
CS: You got a green card at that time?
LM: Not at that point. I just decided that I am not going back. Some of them had green cards. Some of them had overstayed their visas, but...
CS: Were you an illegal alien?
LM: Yeah, for a little bit. But, shit, lots of people were. As long as
you did not get into any trouble with the law, no one was ever going to
find out anything.
CS: Like some of your buddies?
LM: Yeah. So, we lived in that apartment for a couple of years until people started moving out. Deacon and Fox moved out when the company started doing good, and they had money. They were all basically poor as fuck before. I think we eventually got kicked out for having too many people. Me and Geoff got an apartment with another friend of ours, Steve Jolliffe. He was another old friend of Fox's from back in the day. He was just another English skater dude. He rode for Death box before Mouly (Alex Moul)
CS: Did you ever ride for Flip?
LM: Nah... not really. not like legitimately. I don't know. Maybe I did. Maybe. When it was Flip in Europe, I may have gone to one or two European contests riding a flip board.
CS: Before you came to Austin, you worked for Blitz, right?
CS: what did you do for them?
LM: Originally, we would hang out Birdhouse when it was still relatively small. We got to know the few sales people and the one or two guys that worked in the warehouse. They were still very low key. One time, they were doing inventory and needed someone to come and help count for a day. I went and helped count, and the guy that was in charge asked if I wanted to continue to work there. They paid us cash in hand for a while. I ended up working there pulling orders. Eventually, I was the warehouse manager. We moved to a couple different buildings as the company grew and grew. We took on Baker, Fury Trucks, and The Firm.
Gap to Lipslide
CS: When I first met you at the Death Star, I actually recognized you. You had recently been in Thrasher Magazine for the "King of the Road " issue. What year did you go on that?
LM: It was right when I knew that I was going to move to Texas. That was coming up, so I did that like a couple of weeks before I left.
CS: What year did you come here?
LM: 2005... like three years ago. Actually, three years ago exactly because I came after the trade show.
CS: So... I met you right when you got here.
LM: Pretty much, yeah. I met Lee Brooks through my wife, Tria. He showed me around to the Death Star and Banana Farm which is where I met everyone in the skate scene down here. Props to Lee Brooks. It's funny when I first came here. I was like, "Sweet! Lots of dudes my age who skate ramps. This will be a good way to wind down the skateboard life." Now, I spend most time street skating with the young dudes doing my best to not get hurt.
CS: Much props to Lee Brooks. What was your role on "King of the Road"?
LM: You get a filmer, a photographer, and a team manager. Ewan was the team manager, but also their filmer. They needed someone for the team manager and it had to be someone that worked for the company. Otherwise, they would have just picked a ringer...
CS: So you were the ringer?
LM: I guess. I was the team manager if you want to call it that.
CS: What was the experience like?
LM: It was pretty rad. I mean fuck. You have to drive coast to coast in two weeks which is a lot of fucking driving. I was the one driving one of the vans, but it was pretty fun. Everybody on that team is pretty much mad, but it was a great experience.
CS: Did you learn tricks while you were on the tour?
LM: I wouldn't say learned. I would say that I did tricks that I hadn't done before.
CS: I remember seeing you do a back tail blunt transfer on a spine ramp in L.A...
LM: Yeah, that was one of the tricks. I sessioned that with Arto, and I got it first. I don't know. You just pick tricks out of the book that you can maybe do. You go somewhere and you have a go at it a few times. Sometimes you would see if it pans out.
CS: Considering the fourduos crowd, you are probably one of the older heads getting into the monthly montages. How old are you now?
LM: Thirty-five...the ripe age of 35.
CS: ... and still learning new tricks, right?
LM: I did a new trick tonight with you.
CS: A pretty good one too.
LM: Switch front krooks is not bad. If I can do it again, it will be good.
CS: What brought you to Texas? Why would you leave your illustrious career at Blitz?
LM: I had been in America for a couple of years. Through someone that I skated with, I met Tria, my wife. We were together for a year or so before we got married which aided in my green card. She is from Austin, TX. We would come here on vacation for a week or so at a time. It is obviously a decent place. I didn't ever want to end up in Huntington Beach. It is pretty much just horrible people there. It just has no culture or anything. It is full of the worst bros. It is everything bad about California in that little fucking area right there. There are horrible bars, horrible people, bad scene, too much industry, too many dorky motocross dudes. There are too many dudes who don't actually surf, or actually skate, or actually motocross, or actually ultimate fight, but kind of want to be a bit of all of those. You couldn't buy a one bedroom condo for under $700,000. Buying a house there just wasn't going to happen. I was happy to get out of there and come to Texas.
CS: Do you prefer skating in Texas over California?
LM: Hell yeah. California is very over rated. You pretty much have to drive an hour or so to every spot; only to get kicked out and drive to another. So many dudes at all the same rails, stair sets, and spots that everyone skates that are not close. People would drive from San Diego to LA to skate this one particular set. It was just fucking ridiculous. That is not what skateboarding is or ever was to me. The whole time I was there, I really only skated with Geoff, Apples, Arto, Ed or whoever might be in on the session. Unless we went to the Volcom park, they treated it like it was a job. I was just not into it.
CS: You were not into hucking yourself down 13's?
LM: No...it was during that really bad time. No one was skating cool banks, ditches, and Barcelona style spots. Everyone was skating stair sets and big rails. Getting dragged to them day after day was torture. They would go out all the time at night. I would be out in the middle of nowhere in a parking lot at some big rail thinking, "please get the trick or get hurt" so that we could get out of there.
CS: That is a horrible thing to think.
LM: Once generators came on the scene, there was no "it is too dark" excuse. You could then be out forever. After a while, I told Geoff to not bother calling me unless they were going somewhere that I was going to like. There wasn't really a skate scene like there is here. Everybody here knows each other and is down to hang out.
CS: Is it safe to say that you prefer the Austin skate scene?
LM: Yeah. You bump into all of the same people around town at the same events here and everyone is stoked to see each other. It does not work like that out there.
CS: People ask me all of the time who you skate for.
LM: No one really. Luckily enough, I don't have to worry about that. I know people that give me free shit. Don Brown, who is like the VP of marketing or something at Soletech. He has always worked there since they were just Etnies. Before there was Emerica. Before there was Es. He is from my hometown of Brighton. He has given me free shoes forever. Ian Deacon is from my town of Brighton as well. He started Flip with Jeremy Fox, and I have known Fox for years as well. Two people that I grew up with are part owners of major companies, so I get the hook up with them.
CS: Have you ever had your own video part?
CS: In the next year, you are going to have two. Care to talk about either of them?
LM: What parts? The one in fourduos.... and the one in our video?
CS: Yeah. Don't disclose the name.
LM: Ha-Ha. Yeah. Ours is going to be a homies video.
CS: Which one are you more amped on?
LM: I don't care. I am amped on the homies video because of all of the footage that you have that will never see the light of day otherwise. All of the people that are not quite of quality to make it into the monthly montages. Dudes that definitely skateboard for fun. That will be fun.
CS: Since you have spent many a year wrapped up in the industry, do you have any words of advice for the young kids coming up in Texas?
LM: If you are good enough, you will get sponsored. There are enough people around now that if you do a shitty youtube part, you will do fine. Don't go too extreme either way with the gear. If you are good enough, it will happen. You don't have to go out of your way to make it happen these days.
CS: Do you think it is beneficial for the Texas skaters to try and get into the monthly montages?
LM: Yeah. If they are good, for sure. You know people watch that. At least, Texas people will take notice. You can get on a Texas shop or flow from a rep who will take care of you.
CS: You once told me that you used to listen to Texas rap while you still lived in the UK. Who were you listening to?
LM: We got cable really early on. It was when MTV was still good. The YO MTV Rap days. I saw a Getto Boys video, "Do it like a G.O." I got that cd, and they always had a posse cut at the end. I was super into reading who produced the tracks and who was featured on the track. I used to go up to London to HMV. They had a good import section. I used to buy all kinds of stuff. All of the Ghetto Boys stuff, Gangsta Nip, Big Mello, DMG, Odd Squad- which was the group Devin was in before he went solo, Convicts, Big Mike. There was a ton of good shit. There was always a ton of classic good gangsta rap.
CS: Who is your favorite Texas rapper right now?
LM: Ha-Ha... Obviously, that would be Devin. I am not too fond of much southern rap, but he is holding it down. The shit he makes is the same shit he made 15 years ago. His shit is timeless.
CS: Do you think you will still be listening to Devin when you are 50?
LM: Yeah... You know it. I got a meeting with Peyton on my 50th. I am gonna be living Devin's lifestyle.
CS: Anybody that you want to thank or shout out?
LM: Ian Deacon and Jeremy Fox at Flip, Ricta, and Mob. Those dudes have
been giving me free shit for 15 years or more, and I have never really
done anything in return. Apart from, you know, being their friend and
hopefully helping them out with bits and bobs. Don Brown as well at Soletech
for giving me my pick of whatever shoes I wanted from there the whole
time that I have been in America. Thanks to you for filming me, and Mefford
for shooting photos. Any of the Texas dudes that I have met and my wife