FRONTSIDE 180 NOSEGRIND | GEELONG | PHOTO: MARCELLO GUARDIGLI
ST KILDA, MELBOURNE 1:27PM – Let’s start off with the obvious yet essential details… Where you from?
Shepparton, two hours north of Melbourne, just near the border.
If you could sum Shepparton up in a word… No, make it two words, what would they be?
Pretty rough. [Laughs]
What constitutes pretty rough?
Well, for starters, it’s one of the most multicultural places in Australia. So, that just means a lot of cultures and heads clashing. Then there are the bikie gangs and the whole drug trade that goes on there… I’m not gonna lie to you, man, it is what it is and that’s what makes it what it is. There’s also a big aboriginal community, so there’s a lot of angry aboriginal guys lurking in the parks. So just all these things alone mean that if you’re even doing something as simple as walking from one pub to the next, you’ve got like ten things you need to worry about.
WALLRIDE NOLLIE OUT | BROOKLYN | PHOTO: CHRIS McDONALD
Yeah, man. There’s Bloods up there, there are Sudanese gangs… It’s pretty heavy. I’ve been bashed so many times, just while walking from point A to point B.
Is it still like that now?
I couldn’t actually say. I got out of there the second I could, but I can’t imagine it’s changed much. The day I finished year 12, I literally packed the car up with all my stuff and drove straight to Melbourne. The reality was that it was either skate or get involved with some bad shit. It was great to grow up there with my family and go to high school and stuff but once you’re old enough to go out and hit the town, it just got sketchy.
As well as skating you were like the local filmer up there too, right?
Yeah, I started doing it because it was as simple as us just not having a filmer. When my great grandparents passed away they left me some inheritance, which I got when I turned 16. So, the money was given to me and I was like “Right! I’m gonna buy a car and a VX!” I bought it brand new from New Zealand. I still use it. I filmed a trick with it on the weekend!
SWITCH FRONTSIDE FLIP, HILL BOMB | BALLARAT | PHOTO: MARCELLO GUARDIGLI
A VX back then was a luxury item!
Yeah! My school had one of the best media classes in Australia; the teacher had won a bunch of massive awards. I failed every subject, but in media and photography I got A+ in both of them. Passed with flying colours! I actually remember rocking into class with my brand new VX… I’m 16 with this brand new camera and I didn’t even have a case for it. The teacher was like “What the fuck are you doing?!!” and he ran into a store room and came out with this big ass Panasonic case with padlocks and shit and said “Here! Take this, it’s yours!” He was tripping – my camera was better than all his equipment put together [Laughs].
So, you can thank him for you still having it today!
Exactly. The other thing he taught me… Well, I know so many filmers, and none of them get their cameras serviced. It’s only $200 to get it done, but they’re always like “Ohhh, $200!!…” but then their camera fucks out a year later. I always get mine serviced and I still use it nine years later and it’s never fucked out even once. The knowledge of keeping your camera clean and serviced was really important to me, and that teacher made it so clear to me that you have to keep on top of that stuff. I can’t thank him enough for that.
HALF CAB NOSESLIDE, NOLLIE FLIP OUT, QUEENS | PHOTO: NICOLAS HUYNH
“The day I finished year 12, I literally packed the car up with all my stuff and drove straight to Melbourne. The reality was, that it was either skate or get involved with some bad shit.”
BACKSIDE SMITH GRIND | MELBOURNE | PHOTO: WADE CROFTS
A lot of the photos in this interview are shot in New York; which, dare I say is very Zoo York of you…
It is! It totally is man! It’s actually funny you say that. That’s seriously why I went there. I met a bunch of guys from the Zoo team three years ago when they were out here for an Easter tour. Chaz (Ortiz), Kevin Tierney and BD (Dave Willis) and the owner Ben Oleynik. I was just the new dude, so it was kind of like – we’ve got our new riders, so you can just sit in the back of the van and not get in the way sort of thing [Laughs]. I ended up skating pretty well and Ben pulled me aside and invited me to stay with him in the States and said he’d talk to the guys at Zoo here and get something sorted out. So that’s how that all happened, my first trip over there was for a month and I actually paid for it all myself. I knew that if I produced over there, I might have a chance of getting helped out to come back. That’s when I started filming with RB and towards the end of the trip he was like “Fuck, man! We’ve gotta keep filming, you have to come back!”. So I got back to Australia and started saving money straight away to get back, but this time Zoo York Australia helped with my flights and stuff.
BOARDSLIDE TO FAKIE. BROOKLYN | PHOTO: SEAN CRONAN
So, How did round two go?
When I got back over there, the main focus was to finish up a part with RB. It was really hard, because he’s so busy and has to prioritise shooting with the pros on the team and all these other dudes he was being paid to film. So, pretty much it was like if I wanted to film something, first I’d have to find a spot, then think of a trick I could get on it, then I’d have to find a time when he was free and then I’d have to try and land the trick… It was fuckin’ hard work, middle of summer too, so always skating in scorching heat, it was wild. But I loved it, man. The people I skated with over there… Ron Deily really looked after me. We skated together every single day, and because he was filming with RB too that enabled me to get on some of those missions and get some more footage too.
What’s the plan for the clip?
Well, I’m actually working on three parts, but the Zoo part, well, we’ve had all the footage sent over from the States, and I’m just trying to get a few more tricks for it and then it’s good to go.
FRONTSIDE NOSEGRIND. MANHATTAN | PHOTO: SEAN CRONAN
What else did you get up to in while you were over there?
I went to Street League in New Jersey. The one that Luan Olivera won. It was exactly this time last year. Ben from Zoo gave me a VIP pass so it was free entry and free piss and all that and I just met and drank with a bunch of dudes I never thought I’d ever hang out with. Then I met Wenning! [Laughs] We drank and hung out for hours. The whole event is like the old Globe World Cup on steroids!!! A lot of people talk shit on Street League, but you go there and you see people like Matt Miller and Evan Smith, dudes who aren’t those typical comp dudes just ripping. It’s amazing. A bunch of your favourite skaters and Geoff Rowley is commentating. Who’s gonna argue with that? The highlight for me though was hanging with Wenning. We talked shit for hours and then he walked me back to my train, cos he lived in New Jersey and knew the area. He was talking about some Aussie hip-hop dudes he knew and then referred me to everyone as “Yo!!! This is my fuckin’ white Australian rapper boy!” it was wild!
[Slides picture of him with Wenning on his phone across the table…]
My god, that’s amazing, you have to send that to me to put in here…
“The funniest thing was when WENNING SAID “Yo! Who was the first person in the world you saw do a nosegrind pop out?” and I was like, “Well, to be honest MATE, it wasn’t you!…”
The funniest thing was when Wenning said “Yo! Who was the first person in the world you saw do a nosegrind pop out?” and I was like, “Well, to be honest mate, it wasn’t you! It was my homie Nate Olver” and he was like “Fuckin’ bullshit!!!” And I was just said, “No mate, I come from a place where we do our own shit..” and then he kind of changed his tune and was like “You know what? Mad respect to you and your homies… but I was the one doin’ it at Love Park, man!” [Laughs]
SWITCH FRONT BOARD | MANHATTAN | PHOTO: CHRIS McDONALD
Tell me more about all these video projects you have in the pipe-line.
Yeah, the main one I’ve been working on for three years. It’s premiering in about three weeks. That’s the STEADY video. There’s no companies involved and we’re not really promoting it. I’ve definitely put my heart and soul into this one. Other than the STEADY video, there’s the Zoo part and I’m also working on a little side project with my mate from Shep. I’ve just started riding for Street Machine too, and we have a little filming mission coming up soon for that too, so there’s quite a few projects I’m working on.
So, it would be fair to say Brett Royden is a busy man!
Yeah, man. I don’t ever have more than an hour to spare, even with the missus [laughs]. It’s good though, I need to keep busy. I’m just an active dude and I need to exert energy all the time, so keeping busy works to my advantage. If I wasn’t busy, life would get the better of me.