Towards the end of last summer, the New Balance Numeric team were accompanied by Russell Houghton and James Messina, taking up residency in Manchester whilst visiting various UK cities on a filming trip for an upcoming web clip. Two weeks prior I'd been lucky enough to ask NB#'s and newest member to the 3D Skateboards team, Tom Karangelov, a few questions. With 'Quids In' debuting today this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get this very, very long overdue interview online - sorry Tom! So without further hesitation, get to know the humble, friendly and all around rad skateboarder and person that is Tom Karangelov before checking out NB# and Russell Houghten's latest visual offering.
As one of today’s most interesting yet underrated skateboarders, I’m thankful to see Tom Karangelov has gained some recognition he certainly deserves over the last year. Following on from a standout part in Zero’s ‘Cold War’, he’s since caught attention in New Balance Numeric’s visual outings and recently accompanied Brian Anderson and Austyn Gillette as the much speculated and anticipated third amigo of 3D Skateboards. No stranger to hard work and with good ethics for it, Tom is far friendlier, approachable and enthusiastic than his enigmatic and seemingly quiet nature suggests. Having achieved the habitually thought of dream of quitting a regular job to peruse skateboarding, he has nothing but gratuity for the chances he’s been given. Someone who would rather call it quits and skate for fun rather than milk it for what it’s worth; Kirchart, for the Street League generation...
Kickflip to fakie. Photo: Ryan Allan
So you officially ride for 3D now, how’s that treating you?
Great! Things couldn't be any better.
Was an all white outfit a required to get on the team? Are you going to keep dropping that fashion hammer?
Yeah it's a requirement for sure! I don't know, that outfit comes and goes for me; I was stoked on Ryan Gosling wearing it, (laughs).
How did you get to know Brian and Austyn in the first place? You seem like people that would mix in different circles.
I met Austyn through my friend Ryan Allan, I met Brian through Brad Staba.
Coming from Zero, who have a pretty stacked team, what is it like riding for a smaller brand? Does it feel like there’s less or more pressure on you, to be getting coverage or in any other ways?
Definitely way less pressure. I feel like I can literally skate or do anything I want! I could before but this feels like complete creative freedom. Without sounding to corny I always want to try and get photos and film because it’s fun and makes sponsors happy.
You’ve said prior to leaving that Zero didn’t feel like the Zero you rode for anymore. Recently, it’s been no secret that some of the biggest names in the skate industry are struggling, though now it looks brighter for Zero with the Dwindle partnership. Did you have any idea about that, or Chris Cole intending to leave?
I had no idea about dwindle or Cole leaving, I quit because of how I felt. I heard rumours but it always felt like Cole would be with Zero forever, I think he even owned part of the company. I could see him being bummed on some things though, Ed Duff is an amazing skater and Cole’s good friend and Cole didn't even have enough pull to get him on the team. Crazy.
Frontside 5050, Zero days. Photo - Ryan Allan
Smaller brands are surpassing bigger ones right now. Polar is one of the biggest sellers, with newer companies like 3D and Fucking Awesome on the up as well. Why do you think smaller brands currently have a better appeal than the more established ones?
Maybe because the graphics and the vibes speak more to this new generation of skateboarders than catering to making graphics for seven-to-thirteen year olds, but I'm not sure... [Laughs].
Would you agree, in some cases, a lot of people are more drawn in by the pro behind the company? Obviously with Brian, 3D had a lot of credibility from him.
Yeah, I was drawn in because Brian was one of my favourite skateboarders and I loved the first series of boards, the logo, the vibes... You can just tell Brian is putting his heart and soul into the company and actually gives a shit about all the details which I think a lot of people can see.
3D has a completely different vibe to Zero aesthetically, more light hearted in terms of graphics. Was that a welcoming change for you?
Very welcoming. I only rode the "OG" zero graphics. I felt like we were all being left out of the loop on board graphics that got us stoked. I mean I could have tried to let my voice be heard but I felt that I didn't have enough pull or that my opinions didn't matter at that time. If John Rattray didn't get a Predatory Bird graphic, why would my opinion matter? That's how I felt but I'm sure there's a business way of looking at graphics...
Frontside boardslide. Photo: Ryan Allan / 3D Skateboards
Your Welcome To the Team clip was the first bit of footage released officially by 3D, any plans for a promo or video in the near future?
Brian has talked to me about a couple ideas which sound amazing. He and Austyn are working on parts right now so after that I'm sure something will be happening!
A big debate at the moment is the amount of ‘outsider’ involvement in skateboarding. However, you ride for New Balance Numeric, which out of the big brands that have entered skateboarding, seem to have had a far better reception and doesn’t portray the ‘corporate’ image as much. What are your thoughts on that?
You're right, I feel like New Balance are the underdogs of the ‘corporate’ shoe game. I feel like New Balance isn't trying to buy the big names, we are just trying to get a team of dudes that travel well together, get along, love skateboarding and are down to work on project based videos. Hopefully NB can shine through all the bulIshit in that type of way. I mean Jordan Trahan and Jordan Taylor on the same team? I can't think of a better crew of dudes to be on the team with!
You’ve said you aren’t obliged to wear NB# shirts or rep stickers, which is interesting because it’s in some companies contracts. Energy drink sponsors can even dictate the way a skater wears his hat; what’s your attitude to that sort of sponsorship?
I'll put NB stickers on my board and wear the shirts; I'm not too cool for that. I think it is cool that I don't have to, we aren't being forced to. Energy drinks are stupid, but fuck it, they help out so many skateboarders that have house payments and two kids...that part is cool - I don't really want to have anything to do with it.
How did the transition from Gravis to NB# come around? With Arto and also with Russell Houghten working on videos, it must be a pretty familiar atmosphere?
It was pretty gnarly. At first I had to figure out how to make lemons into lemonade really quickly. Once NB approached me, Arto, Russell, and Rattray and they were into it, I was sold. Also the main person that runs the skate program is a really good guy and he only wants the best for everyone – he didn't make crazy offers or act like a dork. He was really genuine so I knew I was in good hands.
Boardslide pop-over. Photo: Arto Saari / New Balance Numeric
All of NB#’s web clips have been incredible in terms of skating and cinematography. How is it working with Russell Houghten on those? Is another in the works?
Thanks, I'm sure Russell will be stoked to hear that! Russell is an amazing filmmaker, although we butt heads a lot I love him. We have an older brother/younger brother type relationship... We are actually coming to the UK in a few weeks to work on another!
You’ve said riding for NB# makes life easier financially. While I doubt it, do you miss anything about having to work a regular job?
No, not really. Now all I can think about is finding spots and skating... (Laughs).
Does it ever feel like you’ve got too much freedom now?
No way. Freedom is the best thing ever!
With your family moving to America for a better life, was growing up difficult until you were able to work and help your family in return? Obviously, I imagine you also feel more grateful for you the opportunities to get as a sponsored skateboarder?
My parents moved here when they were eighteen or nineteen. They did really well financially until about I was fourteen years old. I saw the good sides and the bad sides, so I definitely feel fortunate for everything.
I think you saying you’d rather go down the normal job route and skate for fun is really admirable. Some pros have never had to work a regular job in their lives; do you think that some take being a pro skateboarder for granted at times?
No, being a pro skateboarder is probably way harder than any other job in the world. Props to all you pros out there.
Kids idealize the life of a sponsored skateboarder and forget about the fact that some have to hold down a job at the same time – if it came down to working again what would you go into?
I would try to work somewhere that allowed me to take time off to go skate or travel, that would be the most important thing.
What would you say to someone that’s going through similar experiences to you? As in juggling work, education or whatever else; with what they really want in the long run?
Follow your heart; stick around your friends that put a positive influence in your life. Have fun, life's too short.
With the divide between what’s ‘mainstream’ and ‘real’ skateboarding growing bigger by the day, what do you think skateboarding will look like in ten years?
Probably the same! I hear skateboarding repeats itself, I can see that...
As a Factory Records and Morrissey fan, would you like to visit Manchester to skate and see the place that gave way to the music?
Dude, I'm coming out there soon! I'm so stoked! New Order ‘World in Motion’ playing the entire time!
Best Joy Division song not yet used in a video part?
“Something Must Break”
What’s a Morrissey lyric to live by?
“Nothing's changed, I still love you, oh I still love you... only slightly less than I used to, my love...”
Top five skateboarders (white outfits not compulsory)?
Tempter (Ed Templeton), Arto, AVE, (Geoff) Rowley, B.A.
Finally, give us something good we may not know about Arto Saari?
He always calls out tricks that he wants to do at spots he’s already done them on, but doesn't even remember that he already did them... Oh Arto...
Enjoy 'Quids In' and be sure to check out the accompanying article by Seb Palmer on the Kingpin website. Massive props to Russell Houghten, James Messina, Seb Palmer, Arto Saari, Tom Karangelov, Jordan Taylor, Jordan Trahan, Tyler Surrey, Levi Brown, Tom Knox and all at New Balance Numeric involved in the production of this from everyone at Welcome!
For further reading check our previous interview with shop rider Brendan 'Brenna' Harrap.
Backside kickflip, Wasteland, Leeds. Photo: Chris Johnson
To kick off the launch of our blog, we caught up with longtime Wakefield-Leeds transplant, sneaker aficionado, lover of all things with a little red box and owner of the best kickflip in West Yorkshire, Brendan 'Brenna' Harrap.
Interview by Farran Golding.
Vital stats first please - name, age, years skateboarding and hometown?
Brendan ‘Brenna’ Harrap, 20th March 1988. I’ve been skating for 13/14 years and I’m from Normaton, West Yorkshire.
Zered Bassett, John Cardiel, Lewis Marnell, Wieger Van Wageningen, Alex Caralino, Chewy Cannon
Music of choice?
Who do you skate for?
Welcome Skate Store, Sore Skateboards and Greggs The Bakers.
You’re a big fan of house music and frequently hit up Back to Basics, what got you into that scene?
I wasn’t that keen on the music before but my good friend’s brother was a resident DJ there so when going on trips skating it would get played a lot in the car. I got introduced to a band called 2020 SOUNDSYSTEM and the DJ is also a resident at Basics.
At the time I was going to some of the worst clubs around and just got fed up of the same shit, eventually went to Basics and was blown away by the vibe there. The energy there is unreal, the people there are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. Too many good things to say about the place.
Any favourite DJs you recommend people looking into?
Ralph Lawson, Tristan Da Cunha, Andrew Weatherhall, AUDIOJACK, Seth Troxler, Adam Shelton, Crazy p, Ray Mang. There are too many but that’s a few of my favourites.
You’re a diehard sneaker head so what have been your greatest pickups over the years? Are there any you wish that you hadn’t sold and which have you held on to dearly?
I had a lot of the very early Nike SB stuff like the Richard Mulder and Gino Iannucci Dunk colourways from the first drop of SB Dunks from 2002. I had a fair few pairs of the older stuff and newer releases that I’d sell then buy other pairs. I’ve just sold my last pair a few weeks back, the Reece Forbes ‘Hunter Dunks’, which was one of the first pair of SB Dunks I skated. I eventually lost interest and just didn’t like the direction the brand went, product-wise and them pushing it into the big chain stores instead of keeping it strictly to the SOS stores.
Top skate shoes of all time?
Top two for me: Vans Chima Pro and Vans Chukka Low.
Wallie, Bond Court, Leeds. Photo: Reece Leung
Along with shoes you’re also well invested in your wardrobe. Which brands are putting quality clothing out at the moment?
Post Details – enough said!
Will Supreme always reign supreme though?
Are there any Supreme items over the years that you’ve been really stoked on or spent time tracking down and paid extortionate prices for?
I just get it online or from The Hip Store in Leeds when they stocked it. When it’s gone it’s gone - I just face it. I don’t like funding the resellers There’s only the Public Enemy collaboration stuff from a few years back that I’d pay a bit extra for, with me missing out on it, and it still bums me to this day when I see pictures.
Crook pop-out, Leeds. Photo: Reece Leung
You ride for Sore Skateboards but have also transitioned into a well respected spot-sitter and seem to push Vince [Orr] towards putting people you’re hyped on on the team. So, what’s your actual position? Team rider? Team manager? Resident OG? Part-time filmer? Professional shit talker or all of the above?
I just get hyped on watching the up-and-comers and everyone else killing it and the bullying thing is me just wanting to see friends that are young and ripping get hooked up to help them out. I’m not OG but my body feels like it most the time…
Finally, as a master of the manoeuvre yourself, what is the best varial flip in the history of skateboarding?
Kenny Reed, Static 2!
Cheers Brenna, any parting words?
Brews up, arse planted.
Actually that was a bad suggestion, there are many things in there probably keeping a lot of skateboarders up at night, wishfully thinking of the day where they may blast a Frontside Air so beautiful. What I was getting at however, is this. When properly taking a standard wall ride into consideration, it does not make sense that you can climb a vertical surface on your four wheeled item of joy. However, as the wallride continues to continues to soar in popularity, this wonderment is somewhat lost, much like the magic of the no-comply, one could argue... Grant Taylor however, is like Batman. He is the skateboarder that skateboarding needs (there are many more but Grant is pretty high up there), your favourite skateboarders favourite transition skater. Grant takes everything to the next level, faster, his airs more tweaked, grinds that little bit longer and in this case, his wallrides even more insane. Look closely, no hand on the wall either, an impressive feat for the most standard of Backside Wallrides. Unless you were living under a rock all summer then you were probably very aware that Jake Phelps and his crew of beer shotgunning, transition slaying, heavy hitters took various UK parks by storm a few months ago. Including Grant himself along with Raven Tershy and Ronnie Sandoval. For those like myself who were lucky enough to witness them skate in person, the most accurate description of the three of them tearing up transition was like witnessing Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.
Whilst at the Warrington stop of this tour I bumped into Grant and was beyond stoked to get a photo with him as minutes earlier he had been followed into the giant rhythm section vert, with complete reckless abandon by Raven Tershy only paying attention to the iPhone in his hand whilst following Grant around for about 10 minutes. Venturing outside I bumped into Grant again and was pleasantly declined (hand shaken, first bumped, pat on the back and 'take care' said - fuck not meeting your heroes) a quick interview with him probably for the better as he was a more than a few cans deep by now to say the least... Funnily enough, I then strolled across Raven Tershy sharing a peace pipe with our own shop rider Martyn Hill who was more than happy to chat for a couple of minutes about his experience on our shores for the previous week which you can read below. Introduce yourself man. How’s it going, I’m Raven Tershy. What do you think of England? It’s been amazing man. We’ve been here a week, this is the first day it rained so I think we got lucky on that. We got to skate Romford, Harrow, Tottenham DIY; all these epic, like old skate parks I always wanted to skate so, the tours been sick. People are super cool, food’s good (laughs). Which has been your favourite out of everything so far? I think probably either Romford or the Tottenham one, just cause we got to barbeque late night at Tottenham till’ like, we were there until like three in the morning cooking food. Had a big old fire, just the vibes were tight. Who’s killed it the hardest? Shit, everybody man! P-Stone has been holding the crew together, keeping a tight ship. Uh, Ronnie and Grant have been killing it – Div killed it the hardest today though, Div Adam, he came down for a couple of days. The dude’s a machine. Yeah he’s a fucking animal! So you’ve hit a lot of transition, but what about the street spots. How do they compare to American ones? We haven’t really skated too many street spots, we got to skate Southbank in London which was cool – a couple of little ledges and banks here and there. Mostly we’ve just been going to parks. I’ve seen a lot of cool street, we went to this spot today in Liverpool, these little banks that go all the way down the hill. But we got rained out, that would’ve been sick to skate. What did you think to Newbird, Liverpool's DIY park? Oh yeah, it was rained out, it looked so fun though! I wish we could have got to skate that. Would you come back to England again? Oh for sure man, I’ll be back! (laughs) Words by Farran Golding. Grant Taylor Blazer Low & Thrasher Magazine/Clothing available in store and online.