Catching Up with Mike Arnold

Mike Arnold switch backside 180 photo Reece Leung Welcome Skate Store Blog InterviewSwitch backside 180. Photo: Reece Leung

When he first moved to Leeds, I didn't really know him. He was just a dude that skated around Hyde Park in a beanie. One of many. The first time I noticed his skating was at some comp at The Works back in 2011. He was bigspinning his way around the place in some trousers so tight they could have fit right in with Starkie's old wardrobe. He had to split the £200 best trick winnings with Mike Wright, and that's something that I'm sure still cuts him deep. Anyway, he approached me once at Hyde as I was wearing a Cafe tee and he told me he was from down Bristol way. From then on, we hung out, skated more together, did some filming, drank some beers and it became pretty obvious he was ridiculous on those four wheels. As Mark Kemp and many others have said before, he's just the best. Easily one of my favourite skateboarders and I'm so stoked on his banging 'Alfresco' part and that more and more people are seeing what the Big Wave can really do. Marnold, we miss you up in Leeds  and we regularly hear those Hyde Park flatbars calling your name.......or that might just be Cainan.


Introduction by Josh Hallett and interview by Farran Golding.

Waist-height frontside smith, Millennium Square, Leeds. Photo: Reece Leung

During your stay time Leeds for university you left a pretty hefty dint in the scene. Did you know anything about the skate scene in Leeds or had skated much here before?

I didn’t know anything about skating in Leeds other than Hyde Park’s existence. I didn’t really know much about the UK skate scene at that point to be honest.

Who were the first skaters you got to know when you moved here?

Hard to remember now… Knobhead Tom, Cainan McEwan and Jack Dobiecki were probably the first I met.

You weren’t very well known back in Bristol though, right? Who was your usual crew back then and who do skate with now that you’ve moved back?

Usual crew before I moved to Leeds was my friend Tom who rollerblades.

Backside smith, Mandela Gardens, Leeds. Photo: Reece Leung

You went on tour with Cons in the depths of winter for ‘Braving the Cold’. Any good stories to tell from that?

Shank got a full beer poured over his head/hat by a girl one night. Pretty sure he just let it dry and wore it for the rest of the trip.

How did the Cons hook up come about?

Jerome (Campbell) asked me at the Cons Project space when Welcome had a session there. I remember getting so lost and pissed off in London trying to find the space I almost got the train back to Bristol…

You went through a couple of board sponsors before settling down with Skateboard Cafe. How did you end up riding for Cafe and were you familiar with the people involved as Rich Smith and the other guys are from Bristol too?

Rich asked me while I was back from Leeds. I didn’t really know anyone on the team very well, the video has brought everyone together and it’s a healthy mix. We’re all mates now!

The Skateboard Cafe video was already a year underway by the time you got on the team so did it feel like you had a lot of catching up to do?

Yeah it did. Rich said when I got on Cafe that he would quite like me to have a full part. I honestly didn’t think it would be possible but when I moved back to Bristol we started filming more frequently.

Mike Arnold Ollie Copenhagen photo Reece Leung Welcome Skate Store Blog InterviewOllie, Copenhagen. Photo: Reece Leung

What was the usual filming process like for the video? As you guys went on a fair few tours whilst filming, I imagine it was a more laid back and natural process than going out with certain tricks in mind?

The majority of the time it was very spontaneous. Further down the line, after seeing all the footage you have together in a timeline, you can see what is missing. There were some tricks I had wanted to do for a while and only found the right spots for them a few weeks before the deadline.

How do you feel about your part now you’ve seen the end result? Were you involved in the editing at all or did you choose the song you skated to?

I love how the whole video looks and sounds. I lent Rich a second pair of eyes when it came to the editing. I wasn’t supposed to know I had last part but Rich let it slip a few days before the premier. There was a lot of music being sent in his direction at the time but ultimately Rich chose the soundtrack. He nailed it.

As both your parents are musicians, has that shaped the different genres of music you appreciate?

I like a lot of weird electronic music. There are only a few tracks on my iPod that are appropriate for communal listening. I like to listen to jazz too, that comes from my parents.

Does it make you more conscious of music supervision in skateboard videos at all? Everyone’s really opinionated about that as it is but I imagine coming from a musical background, you would be more so?

Music can ruin someone’s part if it doesn’t work with their style of skating. It doesn’t matter what genre it is as long as it complements the footage and works with the rest of the video! 

Was there any piece (or pieces) of footage in particular you were really hyped on? Likewise, where there any tricks you came close to but couldn’t get for the video?

I had been trying to film a Bigspin Fakie 5-0 Revert for a while. On the Cons trip I promised to myself I would never try it again because I found it too difficult. On a last minute Barcelona trip we had been out drinking one night and I fluked one at the Universitat ledges.

Aside from Skateboard Cafe video, you’ve filmed quite a bit with Josh for The Welcome Video. Are you hoping to take a few more trips up here to film some more before Josh starts editing it? (Whenever that ever happens...)

I want to film more for Josh’s video. He came down to Bristol not long ago. We drank a lot of Charlsberg and filmed some offcuts… Big thanks to Welcome for helping me out though! I’ll get some footage soon I swear!

Mike Arnold Ollie over to Backside Lipslide photo Reece Leung Welcome Skate Store Blog InterviewOllie over to backside lipslide, Leeds. Photo Reece Leung

Is there anything apart from Hyde Park’s ledges you miss from living and skating in Leeds? How does the scene here compare to Bristol?

I miss the rails. There isn’t a militant photographer down here either. We don’t have a decent skate park near the centre but we do have Lloyds! The scene is alive!

Do you skate with fellow Leeds turned Bristol head Charlie ‘C-Cash’ Comrie much?

Yeah I skate with Sea Squash now and again. He’s getting more into his couch surfing these days though...

Right then, we’re nearly done. At Hallett’s request of ‘errr, ask him something about free running’ – have you ever considered getting super wavey and incorporating free running into skating?

What’s wavey?

Finally, as you’ve spent a lot of time skating with him and watched to progress to be as rad as he is now; is Little Jake the next best skateboarder out of Leeds?

YES! Shout out to Jake Mitchell.

After you've enjoyed Mike's part in 'Alfresco', head over to Sidewalk Mag for an interview with Cafe co-owner Rich Smith about their first full length video.

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