Levi Hawken Interview : To downhill or not to downhill?

Levi Hawken

Levi Hawken first appeared on my radar in the 1990’s when a small contingent of Kiwi skaters spent some time in Australia. They infiltrated the scene and seemed to mostly fit in and gain the respect of the locals, and they kicked ass. If you are into downhill racing and follow the New Zealand scene you have probably seen some clips of Levi charging. If you weren’t around in the 1990’s and don’t follow downhill racing you may know of Levi from here. It was this video that went viral and made Levi a household name and meme that went all over the world.

I’ve always been about blurring the lines when it comes to different skateboarding disciplines. There are elements of freestyle, downhill, street and transition that all feed off each other. Skateboarders like Adam Luxford and Danny Way are best known for their skills on the high ropes, but what is not well known is that they can just as easily hold their own between the cones on any slalom course. It’s hard to find a true skateboarder these days that has anything negative to say about Andy Anderson and Rick McCrank has explored the diversity of people that call themselves skateboarders in his Post Radical Vice docu-series.

Levi blurs the lines perfectly. He comes from a street skating background in search of new ways to take advantage of the natural terrain surrounding him. What he has discovered is some life-on-the-line high speed action to fuel his love of skateboarding. Whilst some mall grabbing, mongo pushing longboarders deserve to cop a bit of flak (there are rules people!), there is a whole new world that can open up to every park and street skater willing to add a couple of inches to their wheelbase and throw on some soft tyres. It’s all just skateboarding folks and here’s what Levi has to say about it.

levi hawken downtown skating

Levi Hawken TANGLING WITH DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: When did you start skateboarding and what was the local scene like?

Levi: When I was six I wanted a skateboard so bad, I used to drag my sisters strap on roller-skate around by it’s shoelace like a pet dog, sit my skinny little ass on it and roll down the hill.

I got my first plastic board for my seventh birthday in 1982, but didn’t really know much, we went to the local snake run/flat dish called Toll Bowl, a skate gang called the mutant skate punks used to hang out there. They just did Bert slides and boneless, layback grinds on the edge. My cheap plastic board was shit. It had plastic wheels and barely rolled, kinda disappointing. The plague of our society is cheap board that barely roll and don’t turn, the first hurdle you encounter as a poor skateboarder kid.

I would borrow other richer kids boards at school, I was into my board but also into my BMX, at least my BMX worked properly. The next plastic board was better. It was an Edwards. Then I got a ‘Big Board’ another shitty imitation, the notorious Regal board.

It wasn’t till I was 10 I saw my first ollie and I became fascinated. I managed to learn to ollie up a two inch high curb on that piece of shit with a weet bix tail, it was the best feeling ever.

AHA: Everyone remembers their ‘first’ really good board they picked out, tell us a bit about yours?

Levi: It was A Tracker Lester Kasai Lotus. Kinda shaped like a Tony Hawk. I could only afford the narrow grip tape so I had to cut it crazy to make it cover the whole width. So I had a pro deck but still had shitty plastic base Edwards trucks and roller skate wheels.

Levi Hawken junior JUMP RAMP DAYS 1980'S

Levi Hawken junior JUMP RAMP DAYS 1980’S

 

Then I got a set of 97a Slime Balls, gradually upgraded each part till it was proper. Got trackers next and a fluro green Tony Hawk 7 Ply.

THE JOY OF A NEW UPGRADE TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

THE JOY OF A NEW UPGRADE TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

 

AHA: Which part of New Zealand are you originally from?

Levi Hawken : I’m from Auckland.

AHA: Have you always lived in that part or have you moved around a bit?

Levi: I lived in Auckland most of my life. 10 Years ago I moved to Dunedin for a few years to bomb hills, learn backside less slides good and do art. I needed to get away from all the bad shit and find some inspiration.

LEVI HAWKEN – NOT A COOL GUY ANYMORE?

 

AHA: In the 1990’s you were one of a crew of New Zealand skaters that were pretty well known in Australia, how did that come about?

Levi: When was 18 in 1994 I paid for my first trip overseas to skate with kiwi Shane Wallace and we travelled around Aussie, Melbs, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane. Then I went home and missed the sick natural street terrain in Melbourne. So I kept going back for six months or a year at a time.

I was back and fourth for years. Melbourne became a second home. In 97 I came over and we started filming and getting photos for the mags, There were some videos like Tweakage 1 and 2, Boom Brotherhood.

AHA: At that time there was a crew of great Kiwi skaters including Justin Watene & Chey Ataria, are you friends with those guys?

Levi: Yeah the Mapstone brothers lived in NZ for years and raved about Melbourne. Then I came and back and was raving about it too, everyone got hyped and wanted to skate new shit and also escape from the torrential rain in NZ over winter.

The Mapstones worked for Frank Edwards company Boom in NZ and they started distributing it for him in Melbourne so we had a base. The Boom onslaught was notorious.

Chey and Justin are my bros, skating with them always pushed me and kinda made me feel like a sucked, they were the superstars. Justin’s brother Secombe Watene became my best friend after we found ourselves randomly in Brisbane in 94. Skating with Secombe we would learn so much, push each other to skate bigger hand rails. We started out at a similar level but he got so good, he ended up in my opinion better than anyone in NZ, just skating fast and doing really hard tricks on super high things.

RIP Secombe, the best forever.

AHA: Do you still catch up and have a roll with those guys?

Levi Hawken : Yeah I do but it’s crazy now we are older, you live in the same city and never see each other. I catch up with Chey the most, he still rips too. Secombe passed away. Justin mostly works and surfs. Adam Maclennan has been putting out some Insta clips lately, he’s still got the sick pop and style.

levi hawken AUSTRALIAN SKATEBOARDING MAGAZINE COVER MAY/JUNE 2000

AUSTRALIAN SKATEBOARDING MAGAZINE COVER MAY/JUNE 2000 📷 © DAVID REED

 

AHA: During the 90’s it was a three pronged attack on the Aussie scene from Chey, Justin and yourself. What was the attraction to come and spend time in Australia?

Levi: Firstly,I really can’t put myself on the same level as those guys, I have never been the best skater. I just always skate and try my hardest and push to get on the teams, always pushing to get sponsored by my favourite brands. That hasn’t changed even now. But Melbourne had the sickest street skating, smooth stone and marble, plus it rained less than Auckland in winter.

More coverage in magazines and videos, just more people shooting photos and filming, you gotta remember it was all on film and video tape. There were Comps, demos, events, There was always other stuff going on too, parties, clubs, art openings. Every day was a party back then. Free Booze and a lot of girls.

SLAM MAGAZINE Levi Hawken CONTENTS PAGE 1990'S levi hawken

SLAM MAGAZINE Levi Hawken CONTENTS PAGE 1990’S 📷 © DAVE ADAIR

 

AHA: Who were you skating with in Australia during that time?

Levi: The Mapstones, Shane Wallace, The Watenes, Adam Maclennan, Demian Freeman, Aaron Jenkin, Glen Slater, Egg, Greg Stewart, Ben Harriss, Mike Denevon, Lil Tristan Walker, Jaffa, Ronnie Roberts, AJ Meuller and Will Stoyles. So many other crew, so forgive me for not mentioning all the other people shredding back then.

Dam Raw Run -Levi Hawken

 

AHA: New Zealand spawned a couple of companies that you rode for Strobe and Boom? Were they both part of Frank Edwards empire?

Levi: Yeah Frank wanted to do Edwards skateboards again but Andrew Mapstone and Morri talked him into doing a new brand. They started Boom in 92 and Edwards was the beginner and longboard/surfer brand. Then the Boom team got real big so Morri took his pick of the team and they started Strobe.

Levi Hawken SLAM MAGAZINE FOCUS 1990'S

Levi Hawken SLAM MAGAZINE FOCUS 1990’S 📷 © DAVID ADAIR

 

AHA: Are those companies still going today? (if so what are they like now?)

Levi: They are actually! Haha… In the early 2000’s the shops cut Frank off so he started selling through his own shop Sk8factory and the prices got lower and lower. The quality was often questionable, with a lot of it coming out of China. They are kind of budget brands now you can only them buy online.

LEVI & FRANK EDWARDS FEBRUARY 2020

LEVI & FRANK EDWARDS FEBRUARY 2020

 

Frank celebrated 44 years in the business the other day. I joked with him saying 44 years in and out of the business, we had a good laugh. He’s a legend and I worked for him for years, he taught me the whole industry. I ended up designer and brand manager for Boom for quite a few years until I bounced in 2006. I’d had enough of the whole bitchy industry. It ruined some of the fun of skating for me. I gotta say though Frank flowed me some Boom jeans I’ve cut into shorts and they are going hard. Any downhill skater knows how fast you go through jeans shorts in summer.

GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY 📷 © PITTASPORUM

GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY UNDER THE PITTASPORUM 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: You are a very creative person, how did you get involved with creating art?

Levi: I was always into art growing up. Skateboarding was always full of art too. The skaters I worshipped always had grip tape art and skate graphics were epic and often done by skaters. In those days you couldn’t get a lot of cool skate stuff from America. Plus you were usually broke so you would often create your own.

AHA: Have you studied art formally or forged your own path?

Levi: I did art through school up till 7th form, painting and photography. I drew and painted pictures of people hanging and skating at our staple street spot Aotea Square. I was getting really stoked on graffiti characters and that came through in the characters I painted. Dope sneakers like puma and Adidas. Then after I finished school I kept drawing more graffiti and a about a year later I did my first spray can tag and got obsessed by it. It’s just been a progression on my own terms from there on out.

getting barreled under the flax bush wave 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

getting barreled under the flax bush wave 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: What is your favourite medium to work with?

Levi Hawken : I always liked mediums that were free or cheap. We used to rack spray paint, then when it got too hot I started using roller paint, doing a lot of block colour fill. That went on to using grey anti graffiti paint to do graffiti. Now I’m mostly doing my work in concrete but I’ve recently started making sculpture from glass and even Bronze and Aluminium.

AHA: What artwork are you working at the moment?

Levi: I’m making Cast Glass works, which is a cool medium. But I’m mostly using concrete and making graffiti cubes, planters and other sculptures that have derived from letter shapes. I’m working on a big project for a new mall with concrete planters and large wall tiles that make some quite big concrete reliefs. Also a big concrete wall relief at a skatepark. I’ve been making some models of skatable sculptures too, either to go in skate parks or ultimately in natural street settings which are so much cooler for documenting tricks on through video and photos.

Levi Hawken FRONTSIDE DIY WALLRIDE 📷 © 

Levi Hawken FRONTSIDE DIY WALLRIDE 📷 © Willy Van Der Vliet

 

AHA: Do you consider skateboarding to be an art form or a lifestyle?

Levi: I like the way you phrased that, the fact you didn’t ask if it was a sport or and art form haha. I would say it can be both, and a sport too. Skateboarding is whatever you make it. But for me it’s essential, it’s molded me and my art, it’s part of my whole life. You can become one with it, a lifer, you don’t have to be the best, you just can’t stop though.

SWEEPING THE STREETS IN FRANKLIN 📷 © DORAN

SWEEPING THE STREETS IN FRANKLIN 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: Who are your favourite skateboarding artists?

Levi: Well I have to start with the classics and number one would have to be the Gonz, also Neil Blender, Ed Templeton, Andy Howell is amazing. Lee Ralph in NZ and in Aussie there are some good ones, like Andy Murphy, Marty Baptist, Sid Tapia. There’s also so many photographers, I know I will think of a bunch more as soon as I finish writing this.

AHA: What have been some of your favourite places to skateboard at over the years?

Levi Hawken : Aotea Square was my main place to skate growing up, right in the city, banked monument and stairs etc. I loved Melbourne city, especially in the 90’s before all the ledges got capped. St Kilda Rd was ill. I like Auckland city sidewalks and hills, Constitution Hill and Liverpool street. Wellington has the dope DH and free ride runs. Sumner in Christchurch is dope, Dunedin has mad hills and around Queenstown.

Ollie through the corner at con hill 📷 © Lawrence Thompson

Ollie through the corner at con hill 📷 © Lawrence Thompson

 

But since I went to SF five years back I have kept going back every year. I love Cali, Berkleigh Hills, Tepe n Tacos, Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Diego alley ways and Mary Hill. Want to do Europe, but SF is my true love. I can’t stop going back.

AHA: In the 1990’s you were most renowned as a street skateboarder. Have you always skated other terrain?

Levi: Yeah I started out at the end of the 80’s so it was jump ramps and the streets mostly, then ramps popped up. There were vert ramps too so I tried to learn some vert tricks. I just skated everything I could.

There wasn’t that much that was made to skate so the streets and hills here the first choice. I didn’t really skate bowls when I was younger, it wasn’t till my 30’s I learned more about carving and generating speed and maintaining it.

SOME SAY GONZ OR HAWK INVENTED THE STALEFISH. OTHERS SAY IT WAS SOME KIWI BLOKE. IT WASN'T LEVI BUT HE HAS IT ON LOCK. FAIRFIELD NZ

SOME SAY GONZ OR HAWK INVENTED THE STALEFISH. OTHERS SAY IT WAS SOME KIWI BLOKE. IT WASN’T LEVI BUT HE HAS IT ON LOCK. FAIRFIELD NZ 📷 © Willy Van Der Vliet

 

AHA: One of the main reasons I wanted to interview you is I have been watching a lot clips of you skating downhill and freeriding over the past few years. How did you get interested in that side of skateboarding?

Levi: The more gnarly skate videos got, the more everyone was filming and shooting. You would drive from spot to spot and end up sitting down watching someone try something hard for hours. I’ve always been a bit basic too with tricks. I never liked when things got too technical. I wanna go fast and pop things high. So I started skating more by myself, bombing hills and just cruising spot to spot, listening to music and feeling free.

I always skated to get from place to place and didn’t drive a car. They started paving a lot of the sidewalks with rough exposed aggregate concrete with big expansion gaps. I felt like the council were trying to kill skateboarding in the streets so I started riding bigger softer wheels.

I had hung out with some longboarders around 2008 and thought about getting into downhill but they were riding drop decks and flexy loaded bamboo boards, I had a go but it wasn’t me. Then in 2010 I tried to bomb this big hill with a hairpin on my street board and I was so out of my comfort zone just icing out across the road. That sparked a desire to be able to take corners fast. I was so into bombing hills and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to go faster and be able to skate down anything even if it was steep and rough.

NON STOP STALE-SLIDE 📷 © DORAN

NON STOP TOSSY STALE-SLIDE FOR THE CAMERA 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: Is there a polar division between traditional ‘street’ skateboarders and downhill and free ride skaters in New Zealand?

Levi: Yeah totally, street skating from the 90’s attitude was gnarly. You could be deemed uncool for any number of things. Doing the wrong trick or wearing the wrong thing, listening to the wrong music.

Downhill didn’t really exist on our little island in the South Pacific. So longboards were considered to be ridden by non skateboarders who wanted to get from A to B and labeled kooks. I was a 90’s street skater and very judgmental of anything that I thought was uncool. I really enjoyed letting go of that attitude and not giving a fuck any more, being more open minded and trying to be better person. Not for anyone else but for me. If I can be easier on other people I can be easier on myself.

Levi Hawken GOING THE WRONG WAY WITH A BACKSIDE WALLRIDE 📷 © 

Levi Hawken GOING THE WRONG WAY WITH A BACKSIDE WALLRIDE 📷 © Willy Van Der Vliet

 

AHA: Have you ever copped any flak from other skateboard riders for riding longboards?

Levi Hawken : For sure, I’ve been judged by the street / normal skaters, most won’t say anything to my face but I’m sure behind my back I cop it real sweet. But that’s cool, it’s pay back for all those years I was an ignorant asshole being the same to others.

I hit up Manual magazine to post my Sector 9 clip skating SF years back and the editors kept making up reasons why they couldn’t post it. They were too busy and it was the other guys job and he’s in Japan on tour. It went on, none of them had the balls to say the real reason why they wouldn’t post it. I know why. They don’t like the aesthetic, wearing a helmet on street, riding a bigger board on soft wheels and not doing tricks. A lot of people have their version of skateboarding from their era and don’t want it change.

I definitely drifted further away from the skate scene after that. Then the whole Nek Minnit thing has pushed me away from skate parks too. I don’t like to be bothered by kids on scooters saying “nek minnit” to me when I’m trying skate. Trying to ask me about my scooter ha ha…

I often go skating when I’m angry and want to release, it’s often best if I go take it out on the city hills alone. I don’t need any other eat ass to go skate so I just go unleash and end up happy as fuck. But times are changing, I like to think I help educate people and remind them it’s about having fun and being free.

AHHHH. Whangamata... HOWS THE SERENITY?

AHHHH. Whangamata… HOWS THE SERENITY? 📷 © Pablo Cheftel

 

AHA: For skateboarders that consider downhill and freeriding as ‘wrongboarding’, what are they missing out on?

Levi: They’re missing out on a lot of fun, freedom, adrenalin, hysterical laughing and road rash. Lots of road rash! Pain and sitting around talking enormous amounts of bullshit. But I don’t like the word Longboarding, to me it’s all skateboarding. I don’t like the way that word divides skateboarding up. They’re all just skateboards.

I’ve been offering free lessons at a Wednesday night skate session called ‘One Tree Hill Wednesdays’ where I’ve been slowing it right down and teaching mostly pushing, foot braking and carving to slow down and then to speed up. I bring a bunch of big ass double kicks with soft bushings and smooth wheels and other sets ups for free ride and even a little fish board. I just want people to learn to turn on a skateboard and find the enjoyment in the simplicity. Then they can build on it and explore it. They can learn this stuff without risking major injury. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve got going on right now when you are teaching people who span from 5 years old to 60 something.

BASE - HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? 📷 © 

BASE – HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? 📷 © Lawrence Thompson

 

AHA: What is the fastest speed you have ever been recorded going downhill on a skateboard?

Levi Hawken : Recorded? I think 86kmph but I would say I’ve gone close to 100kmph at Ruapehu.

HUIA RAW 2 -Levi Hawken 📷

 

AHA: How did that feel?

Levi: It always feels awesome. On a big wide open road you can forget just how fast you’re going. I would like to feel what it’s like to get up over 100 we don’t have a lot of hills I know of in NZ where you can do it, especially not safely.

threading a trashy needle 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: What are some of the best hills to ride in New Zealand?

Levi: From north to south Mangamukas, Testie (RIP?) Huia, Waitakere Dam, The lookout, Divi, Chicken, Ruapehu, Paekakariki and Blue Mountains. So many in Wellington! Kaikoura LB Festival race hill, Sumner, Major, Mount Pleasant and Remarkables. Not a lot of really long runs with a lot of slides needed but we have some good gems.

Levi Hawken - NIGHT SLIDIN' 📷 © DORAN

Levi Hawken – NIGHT SLIDIN’  📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: Have you had any close calls or high speed spills?

Levi: I fractured my neck on Con Hill when I first got into big boards, paralysed myself from the neck down, took a month before I could stand on my board and push. That wasn’t even high speed.

Had a really heavy bail in SF at about 65kmph on chunder standing tall in a tee shirt. I carved in front of someone and pretty much got pushed off, shattered my thumb and broke a few ribs, so much bruising around my torso and right down into my groin, even my cock was half purple. Not the best start to 3 week skate trip.

I got taken out from behind by someone going super fast at Tepe a few years back, crack my ribs and I had already had someone crash in front of me and give me mad road rash on my second run there. So I’m most weary of other riders, it’s taken a while to get used to riding with people, I’m a lot better at it now but still, if you don’t know them and their skill level, best to stay away.

HIGH SPEED RACE ACTION 📷 © JAZ JELEV

HIGH SPEED RACE ACTION 📷 © Jazmin Tainui

 

AHA: What type of protective equipment do you wear for downhill and freeriding?

Levi: I’ve got the sector 9 crash shorts and knee gaskets that I often wear. If I’m riding DH boards I will generally wear one of my helmets, Predator made me a Custom smaller size carbon DH6X full face helmet which is so light and comfy and has a super nice visor. I got a small head so often hard to find a good fitting helmet. Urban Biker NZ gave me some Saint Unbreakable Kevlar jeans and cargos that are super sick. I haven’t managed to put a hole right through yet. My left elbow is mostly scar tissue so I usually wear an elbow pad on it. Now I’m older my skin is thin and comes off so easy and takes a long time to heal. So if I’m riding with other people while racing or at a free ride I will usually just wear leathers.

Quality of life is so much better with out massive grazes. I love my NJKs too, I feel so fast, comfy and safe like I’m wearing armour. In saying all of this, it’s summer and I’ve been bombing sidewalks a lot with no gloves or protection at all, just shorts and singlet. I feel pretty confident now but I like having a half shell and gloves if I’m really gonna send it. A lot the sidewalk shit I’m trying to get really close to solid objects, a helmet is always good when proximity skating.

AHA: Are you still street skating much these days?

Levi: I’m always in the streets on my 36 DK but usually keeping my wheels on the ground and hitting slides on all the features. Not really so much on my standard board with hard wheels. I hit parks and minis on it and occasionally I’ll skate vert too. I love skating everything, I just wish my body could still do all the old tricks. There are so many tricks I used to do on street I have tried over and over again and can’t get my 44 year old body to do them. It can make me a bit depressed so I just go get sideways at speed instead.

LEVI HAWKEN - FRONTSIDE BOARDSLIDE

LEVI HAWKEN – FRONTSIDE BOARDSLIDE on the copper at the original Aotea Square 📷 © Rene Vaille

 

AHA: How is your body holding up from skateboarding these days?

Levi Hawken : I’ve had lower back trouble as I’ve gotten older and have lost most of my street pop. One arm is a bit numb from being paralysed and my shoulders itch from it. I’ve had a ACL reconstruction on my left knee 20 years ago. Broke both my thumbs but it’s holding together pretty good.

I try to do all my strengthening exercises so my back doesn’t cease up. I find drinking makes my back cease up, I get lazy with the strengthening exercises, lose core strength. Just did 1 year sober, then had a break and drank moderately for 2 months but it’s so hard for me to control. I get urges to drink beer in the daytime, I will drink instead of eating, drink instead of drinking water. Then I will end up having a massive night then wake up and start drinking in the morning. The old party benders patterns come back. My dad drank himself to death, I’m super wary of alcohol. I know it’s the men in my families’ nemesis. Plus drinking kills my skating more than anything else.

AHA: What is the main difference as far as impact on your body comparing street skating to freeriding and downhill?

Levi: I can have a whole skate on DH, free ride or bombing sidewalks without bailing once. After a session I often feel like I have made myself stronger by skating that shit.

But street or park you are constantly trying tricks and having to run out of bails. After a good street skate session my joints will feel wrecked. It’s hard to have a good skate two days in a row cuz the second day you are recovering. But as you know, when you have a bad crash at speed, that can really mess your shit up for a while.

AHA: Do you street skate in the streets or does NZ have some great parks with street features these days?

Levi: I do but like a said, I don’t have the pop to skate the way I want to skate. There are parks everywhere now, I go to them a few times a week, sometimes more or less depending. I like skating Vitoria Park or Valencia the most. I wish the Mangawhai bowls were closer to Auckland.

TRASH SALAD  📷 ©

TRASH SALAD  📷 © Willy Van Der Vliet

 

AHA: What parks in your area should visitors check out?

Levi Hawken : I like Vic park cuz it’s central, has a dope mini and there is a lot of space to push around fast and throw slides. Valonia Park is pretty cool, Mangawhai has got the sickest bowls. I mean you can just google all that shit if your coming these ways.

AHA: So what is on the future horizon for your skateboarding?

Levi: On my 36” double kick I’m just trying to progress and maintain in the streets, be able to skate down anything and hit the hard to get features, straight bomb the odd steep city street.

Go back to SF for another round or two or three or….

And for downhill I’ve pretty much completely switched to a smaller narrow split slalom style speed board. Keep it hands down, I like trying to hold tuck through corners, ride tight with others and in general just get faster and smoother. I love that it’s about control and discipline. I don’t feel like I will ever be as good as those that learned DH growing up but I’m not stopping anytime soon.

AHA: Where can people check out some of you older skate clips and keep track of what you are up to?

Levi: I have a FB page, Youtube and Instagram which are all my name. I also have another Instagram account for my art which is @levihawkenart. You can also find some other clips on Youtube on Crunchies channel, Sector 9 and a lil bit on JSM Network.

Levi Hawken - decorating the pavement 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

Levi Hawken – decorating the pavement 📷 © RICHARD DORAN

 

AHA: Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer all our questions Levi. Any shout out or folks you would like to mention?

Levi Hawken : To My Girlfriend of 8 years Katrina who always encourages me to go skate, love you babe xx

If any skaters are coming to NZ, especially Auckland then hit me up or check the Auckland Longboard Society page or Gnartearoa page. We try to be as inclusive of anyone who visits.

I would like to thank my sponsors Sector 9, Predator Helmets, Blacklisted Belts, Converse NZ, Lost Out West Clothing, The Boardroom, Paris Trucks, Don’t Trip Trucks, Substance Distribution for the Independent Trucks. Also K-rimes for everything he does for downhill skateboarding and special shout to big Dave and Radzani.

Shout outs:

Chey at Def, The filmers: Matty Bee, Larry Thompson, Crunchie, Stefan Rhinehart, Louis Pilloni, Aaron Breetwor, Richard Doran. My inspiration: Gabs Gwynne and Matt K, Jimmy Dangle, Jensen, Uncle Daryl, Ethan Lau, Jeff Budro, Byron Essert, Liam Morgan, Jimmy Riha, Boss Druckery, Micah Green, AJ Hairy, Aye Cole, Oscar, Fingerbang, Callum banks, Api Ihaia, Elissa Man, Erni Vills, Matt Green, Troy P, Stephen Davis, Devon, Elliot and west crew, Matt Hishon, Ben Hay, Davis Lanham, Zac Mills, Get That crew and the rest of the Aussie DH crew….

The list could go on and on but I want to mention Louis Pilloni again and Jeff Budro at Sector 9 for making a washed up old hill bomber from the other side of the world feel like a part of the team. DD! Oh and Oscar Gutierrez and Rob McWhinnie for all the inspiration!

Want to hear more about Levi in his own words, check out this clip. Wan’t some of the action then check out our Sector Nine gear here.

Check out more interview’s with skateboarders, movers and shakers here.

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Width (mm) 137
Suit Deck Width 8.0″ – 8.2″
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Width (mm) 147 & 148 sizes available
Suit Deck Width 8.25″ – 8.4″
Features Hollow Axle, Hollow Kingpin & Forged Base plate
Construction Cast Aluminum & Forged Aluminum
Colour Candy Turquoise Blue & Gunmetal Base

Thunder Hollow Lights Thunderbird 148 Skateboard Trucks are the Pro model trucks for Kyle Walker. Thunder Hollow Lights are performance machines that will improve the way you skate. These trucks have Hollow axles, hollow kingpins and forged baseplate for extra strength and a lighter feel. These Lights feature Teal Thunderbird Hangers with Gunmetal base plate to abuse the coping at your local skatepark. Check out Kyle’s ‘Heavy’ part from 2019 here.

Thunder Trucks Size Chart:

Thunder Trucks Size Chart:

What are the best sized Thunder Trucks to buy?

Need to know what size trucks to get for your set up? The rules are not hard and fast, but if you are unsure, getting an axle width to match the width of you deck is the best way to go. Thunder have recently added more sizes to the range, so now you can really fine tune your set up with the ultimate precision. Want to know the difference between Thunder Trucks Team Editions, Lights, Hollow Lights and titanium enhanced models? Click here and here.

Vans Rowan Zorilla Pro Mirage Skate Shoes

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We showed you the amazing Baker X Vans collaborations here and here a while back. Rowan Zorilla had a cool collab colour way. February 2020 sees the release of his full blown Pro model shoe The Mirage. And Basement Skate is one of the first places you can get it.

Introducing the Rowan Pro, the latest Vans signature skate shoe from global team rider Rowan Zorillla. Hailing Rowan’s wildly advanced bag of tricks and legendary personal style – both contemporary and reminiscent of decades old – Vans has created a collection that reflects Rowan’s influential aesthetic and uncanny ability to skate everything.

The Rowan Pro features two new innovations specific to the Vans Pro Skate line. SickStick, a proprietary gum rubber compound that’s uniquely calibrated in the sole and foxing. It delivers enhanced grip and maximum durability, making it the stickiest, grippiest gum sole in the brand’s history.

In addition, PopCush—a brand-new foam recipe that’s meticulously tuned for impact protection. Thisprovides superior cushioning and increased energy return for less fatigue over the course of the day.

Duracap technology reinforces underlays in high-wear areas. Unrivaled durability to prolong the life of the shoe.

Rowan Zorilla : Baker Skateboards

Rowan Zorilla : Baker Skateboards

Some skaters seem ahead of their time. Others, of an era long gone. Rowan Zorilla lands firmly in between. He has a legendary loosey-goosey style and advanced trick selection that can only be identified as completely his own. His ability to skate any spot has earned him broad acclaim. In 2015, his standout part in Vans’ first full-length video, Propeller, solidified his industry influence. The following year, a nod from Baker owner and legendary skater Andrew Reynolds inducted him into the pro ranks.

With a feature in Bill Strobeck’s 2018 release, Blessed, and his latest part in Baker 4, he shows no sign of slowing down. And much like Rowan himself, his namesake shoe is a throwback to the future of Vans.

Vans Pro Mirage Skate Shoes

Vans Rowan Pro Mirage Skate Shoes

Make Suede Nylon Mesh
Sole Cup
Cut Low
Colour Blue

Features:

  • Suede / Nylon Mesh
  • SickStick Cup Sole
  • Pop Cush HD impact insoles
  • DURACAP upper Reinforcement in High wear areas

A young skateboarding talent has risen from the ranks. Rhythmic in style and unorthodox in approach, pro skater Rowan Zorilla sets the stage for awe. Watching Rowan skate is like witnessing a live jazz set—unbridled by convention, yet flawless in form. Vans celebrates Rowan’s creativity accordingly, honoring him with his first-ever signature pro model from Vans. Dig the shoes and want the Baker loot? Click here.

baker skateboards

About Vans

Vans®, a VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) brand, is the original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand. Iconic and authentic collections are sold in 84 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors and international offices. Vans® has over 2,000 retail locations globally. this includes owned, concession and partnership doors. The Vans® brand promotes creative self-expression in youth culture across action sports, art, music and street culture. It delivers progressive platforms such as the Vans Park Series, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing®, Vans Pool PartyVans Custom Culture, and Vans’ cultural hub and international music venue, House of Vans. Vans, “Off The Wall” Since ’66

Want more from Vans? Check out their latest releases available at Basement Skate right now here!

New Flight decks for Andy Anderson & Salman Agah

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We have just received a new batch of decks from the good folks at Powell Peralta. Hot off the press are two amazing new flight decks for team riders Salman Agah and Andy Anderson.

Powell Peralta New Flight Pro Anderson Heron 8.45″ Skateboard Deck

 

Powell Peralta New Flight Pro Anderson Heron 8.45" Skateboard Deck

 

Width (inches) 8.45
Length (inches) 31.8
Wheelbase (inches) 14.25
Construction Maple Carbon Fiber
Style Street / Park & Vert / Bowl
Colour Blue Orange

Powell Peralta has released the long awaited Andy Anderson New Flight Pro Heron 8.45″ Skateboard Deck. Andy is one of the worlds most versitile skateboarders. His deck is a unique shape and not just a nod to old school decks of the past. Every cutaway notch and bump has been carefully designed by Andy to serve a certain purpose.

Shaped with squared kicks to open up your freestyle game and combine tricks on any terrain. It has a 14.25″ wheel base to get you around tight transition and and over all 31.8″ length. This 8.45” will feel amazing under your feet in any situation, with the steep concave and longer, wider size helping you carve and pump maximum speed around the park. The amazing pop will have you flying higher than Cheech and Chong. It is a strong beast and will give you the confidence to nail those huge gaps knowing your board will take a mega beating. For more info about the Andy Anderson Flight boards point your browser at Andy Anderson Powell Peralta Flight Heron Decks are here

 

Powell Peralta Pro Salman Agah Green Lion 8″ Skateboard Deck

 

Powell Peralta Flight Pro Salman Agah Lion 8" Skateboard Deck

Width (inches) 8 / 8.75
Length (inches) 31.45 / 32.95
Wheelbase (inches) 14 / 15
Construction Maple Carbon Fiber
Style Street/Park
Colour Green

Powell Peralta have delivered 2 new Flight decks for Pro Salman Agah. With a green recolour of his original model the graphic really pops with the black carbon background. We have this deck available in two sizes 8.0 & 8.75. Salman is known as the street switch master but has recently been hitting the high ropes. So street or vert, Salman has you covered when it comes to deck size.

Over 5 years of research and development has gone into the Flight decks with the aim to produce the gold standard in skateboard deck construction. The results speak for themselves:

  • As thin as your Smart phone
  • 200% stronger than a 7-ply deck
  • 10% Lighter than a regular 7-ply
  • Higher rebound and snap, for the crispiest pop around
  • 10 x longer lasting POP!

Epoxy infused fibres between all 5 layers of ply, as well as top and bottom lays give the Flight Decks unrivalled strength, pop and longevity.

Want more action from the folks at Powell Peralta? Get your old school vibes here or nerd out on some wheel tech here.

Have you heard of Salman’s Pizza joint, Pizzanista? Check out these killer collab wheels!

Santa Cruz X Spongebob Squarepants!

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Colab much? Santa Cruz do. The latest is with the Nickelodeon sensation Spongebob Squarepants. Summers here and if you are thinking taking a trip to Bikini Bottom we have a couple of killer new things to take with you. Let’s check them out!
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Double Take : Dogtown OG Muir & Martinez classics

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If you know anything about the Venice Beach skateboarding scene, you will know that it was one of the seed crystals for modern skateboarding. Two of the most important Venice personalities are Jim ‘Red Dog’ Muir and Jesse Martinez. Dogtown Skateboards have been putting out some amazing decks recently and here are two Dogtowm OG reissues celebrating these two skateboarders. Continue reading

Double Take : Big Dogs from Dogtown

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If you want to run with the big dogs and piss in the tall grass you better be prepared to ride a board to match. Here are two Dogtown classics to supply the need.

Dogtown OG Classic Bigfoot 11.875″ Big Dogs Skateboard Deck

Dogtown OG Classic Bigfoot 11.875" Big Dogs Skateboard Deck

Width (inches) 11.875
Length (inches) 31.75
Wheelbase (inches) 15.75
Construction Maple
Style Old School
Colour Green Yellow

This board was the widest of the wide pig style boards from 1979 when decks expanded, seemingly overnight. They went from just 7 inch to this Pig at very nearly a foot wide. A superb looking wall hanger but if you wanted one back in the day now is your chance to get one that is even better to ride. If you have ever watched what Mark Gonzales often rides you will know this board can be just at home on the streets as it is on the high ropes. Not for the feint hearted but a must for any serious quiver.

Dogtown OG Classic Bull Dog 10″ Reissue Skateboard Deck

Dogtown OG Classic Bull Dog 10" Reissue Skateboard Deck

Width (inches) 10
Length (inches) 30
Wheelbase (inches) 16
Construction Maple
Style Old School
Colour Brown

Reissue of a classic late 70s pool board from Dogtown. This is the Wes “Bull Dog” Humpston pro model. If you want street cred to ride with the big dogs, you need this hound under your feet.

About Dogtown Skateboards

Born in Venice Beach California. The Dogtown Cross as created by C.R. Stecyk III first came to public light on the pages of Skateboarder Magazine in 1976.

It was soon applied to skateboards in the way of innovative art and paint designs by Wes Humpston and Jim Muir. In 1981 Mike Muir moved in with brother Jim in his Venice home. Shortly thereafter Mike formed Suicidal Tendencies and Skate Rock history was born.

Fast forward 40+ years later and Dogtown is still pushing wood. Three years ago Jim Muir and Mike Muir brought the brands back together under the distribution of Dogtown X Suicidal coming full circle as a family business again like it was back in the 1980’s. DTxST is skater owned and operated. Our only crime was being original and they are Possessed To Skate after all these years.

More Dogtown action right here!

New OJ III wheels are here!

OJ

OJ III Wheels have been on the up and up for some time now and are a solid go to when you need a set of new tyres. With over 40 years of wheel design and marketing behind them they are one of the most well know skateboard wheels around. So for your riding please let’s see what OJ have cooked up when they team up with Creature and a well known cameraman.
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The Disposable Skateboard Bible – 10th Anniversary Edition

One of the most valuable tools for writing skate blogs and winning arguments is back. It is 10 years since the follow up companion to ‘Disposable – A History of Skateboard Art’ was released. The Disposable Skateboard Bible is the essential book for any collector of skateboards from the 1970’s to 90’s. This is the ultimate book for experts and enthusiasts of skateboard history alike.
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Our beloved Deck Chair has to go! : Bushfire Help!

Our beloved Deck Chair has to go! : Bushfire Help!

We love our deck chair which has been sitting out the front of our shop for over 5 years. It has been the place for many a weary skater to plant their weary bum. It has been warmed by some of the best skateboarders on planet earth and photographed by thousands. Sydney City Council have other ideas and have told us it has to go. So as much as it hurts, we are getting rid of it. Thanks Clover! Continue reading

The Vans youth are alright!

So we are pretty much just over half way through the summer school holidays. Any young skateboarder worth their salt will have gone through at least one pair of shoes skating everyday for the last four weeks. If they have check out what we have instore to keep them rolling. Here are three of the best Vans youth shoes going around at the moment. Continue reading

The Eric Nash Dark Horse deck from the Label

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Eric Nash was a high profile skateboarders in the 1980’s riding for Sims Skateboards. He was renowned for vert and pool skating with a full bag of cutting edge lip tricks for the time. Still ripping today, Black Label have released this amazing 9.25″ Eric Nash Dark Horse guest model. Check out Mr Nash giving a pool a work out in 1990. Continue reading

Santa Monica Airlines Think Crime Rocco Division Reissue

Santa Monica Airlines was founded by Skip Engblom in the years following the Zephyr / Dogtown boom. Skip always had an eye for talent bringing guys like Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Jay Adams to the eyes of the world. He later teamed up with Natas Kaupus and helped usher in the new street style of skateboarding in the 1980’s. Towards the end of the 80’s former freestyle pro Steve Rocco teamed up with Skip for a brief period before going on to create World Industries. The Santa Monica Airlines Think Crime deck from that era has just been re released and Basement Skate is one of the only places in Sydney where you can pick up one of these rare gems. Continue reading

Double Take : Cruzers for 2020 are here!

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Here we go with 2 brand new Santa Cruz cruzers from the good folks at NHS. Both are set up with nice soft wheels and are perfect for all street and park terrain. They are sized so you can hit the bowl or transitions with ease.  You can also grab a set of these and switch over wheels if you need some harder thane to get your slide on.
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Nawwww…. new Baby Vans Shoes

vans

New year, new shoes. Got a new addition that screams and just don’t know what to do to sooth the savage beast? Try a new pair of Baby Vans shoes. I’m not sure if it will work, but if you have been in that situation, you know anything is worth a shot. Here are three new cuties for your cutie. Continue reading

Do you have 2020 Vision?

Vision logo

It’s been a while since we posted any Vision old school decks up, but with a new batch on the shelves here are three great 80’s classics to check out. If you are not of that vintage, alongside Powell Peralta and Santa Cruz, Vision was one of the big three in the 1980’s. They had their own wood-shop and some of the most iconic graphics in skateboarding history have been flown under the Vision banner. They also were the manufacturer and distributor for other high profile 80’s deck brands including Sims, Schmitt Stix and Town & Country. Continue reading