Why Start A UK Wheel Brand? - A Sabbath Wheels Interview
If you've grown up skateboarding in the UK over the past few years the amount of British hardware brands have one... been few and far between and two almost invisible after a few months. Sabbath Wheels from our standpoint has been checking boxes since they emerged with a set of rippers from across skateboarding and more importantly a skateboard wheel that keeps on giving.
Experimenting in secret and lording over Sabbath Wheels is Rob over in Birmingham. Whilst juggling with his photographic work for the Skateboarders' Companion and running Sabbath he managed to answer the most important questions that spring to mind when a new brand appears on the scene.
It started off with me wanting to use folk/occult style artwork and running with that into a brand. From there I took off on a search for a fitting occult related name.
Sabbath came to mind whilst researching the art of Franciso Goya. He has this one piece called ‘Witches’ Sabbath’ - one of my favourites of his. The name ’Sabbath’ was perfect. I couldn’t get the name out of my head. It has a connection to the occult, Goya, Black Sabbath and my hometown Birmingham.
I love people seeing the homage to Black Sabbath in the name, and I’m happy to embrace it.
Did anyone try to talk you out of starting a wheel company?
They didn’t have the chance, I kept my cards close to my chest until the final stages of production.
Who rides for Sabbath?
Too many people, I get carried away:
CRAIG QUESTIONS, DEAN GREENSMITH, FREYA BROOK, JAMES BUSH, BLINKY, JORD LIGHTOWLER, MARCUS PALMER, DEE COLLINS, TINY HARRY, ALICE SMITH, COLLIN ADAMS, HENRY FOX, JACK STEELE, JOXA, ALEX RAMSELL, BETH HOWELLS, OG HEWETT, MARK RADDEN, MIA ROBERTS, DARBY GOUGH, CALLUM SIDLAUSKAS, RORY BUCKLEY, KRIS VILE.
I’ve got my eye on a couple others, but for now, I’m happy.
Blinky says the wheels have lasted him for ages and he’s onto his second set, how much input do you have into the style, shape and durability of the wheel?
I have a great relationship with the factory which produce Sabbath wheels on my behalf, they’ve enabled me to do as I please regarding design and production, no ask is too big for them.
We worked closely together whilst creating Sabbath's signature ATU (all terrain urethane) formula. It was an 18 month process from first sample to launching the brand. I was able to take my time and get things exactly how I’ve wanted them.
What was the most important aspect of the wheel you wanted to get done right?
When I first decided to create a UK wheel brand, the only thing on my mind was getting the urethane right. My objective was to produce a premium quality wheel which would be comparable to the top US brands, but in the UK market at a affordable price point.
How long did it take from the initial idea to receiving your first set of finished wheels?
It was close to two years from idea and concept to launching the brand, this is due to spending time finding the correct manufacturer to partner with and then experimenting with urethane until I found the right formula for Sabbath.
Could you list off the artists you’ve worked with so far? Is there anyone out there you’d like to work with?
I’m stoked to have had the support of so many talented people, everyone has been amazing!
Checkout these artists:
Lynda Whiston(the wife) - @pickles_illustrations
Lewis Davies - @lewis_davies_tattooer
Aaron Beese - @beesepst
Zombie Stu - @scathezombie_stu
French - @funeralfrench
Deivit - @dirtybeanie
Craig Questions - @theprocessofnothing_
I've also started speaking with Swampy (@swampcrust) about an idea I had, hopefully that’ll manifest itself in the near future. He does these cool lino/folk style portraits that I’m really into.
Was there anyone wondering why the wheels aren’t white?
I've not had many comments on it, however it’s not an intentional thing, it's just how the wheels came out after all the meddling with the urethane formula.
I’ve got a new wheel formula coming out in Summer which is white. It’s going to do everything the ATU formula does, but its going to be really hard. It’ll still grip when you need it to, however it’ll be extra slick and slide further when you let it.
The formula is call Double Hard Bastard (DHB). The graphics are going to be British hard men. We're having a right laugh with this concept, I've even got ‘Blokes’ on board for a collab.
Best Black Sabbath song / album?
I don’t know if they’re the best, but when I’m skating the song is ’Sweet Leaf’ and the album would maybe be ‘Paranoid’ - some heavy hitters on that album, plus the cover is sick!
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