Ben Grove is a notorious Mancunian and champion Skate-boarder. Widely recognised as the UK’s foremost street skater, he no longer cares for the pressure and reward of championships, instead choosing to focus on doing what he loves and not being coerced into compromising his art for anyone else. During a night-out in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, at the Kosmonaut Bar, photographer Matthew Stansfield was introduced to Ben and thought he would be a great subject for an editorial and interview. We agreed. Grove is a cool addition to our 4th year anniversary issue – learn more about him..
INTERVIEW by Matthew Stansfield
MS: How did you get into skateboarding?
BG: I got into skateboarding when a couple of Australian kids moved in next door to where I was living when I was about 14. I was just playing football at the time, and skateboarding is just you and a piece of wood not 10 other idiots to deal with, a good way of relieving a lot of pressure. No-one else did it – the only other skaters in school other than the Aussies were a couple of roller-bladers but I wan’t interested in that. Then a few more kids starting skateboarding. We were a little crew, a bit like the outcast’s – like now.
MS: Is skateboarding a way of life?
BG: It’s self expression, It’s an art-form, like music you can’t really compare one band against another its the same with skateboarders they are all different with individual outlooks & philosophy. Its not a sport, its a way of life. I can remember when the Olympics were on I was interviewed by someone who asked if skateboarding should be included at the Olympics. The interview was basically dead at that point as I realised this idiot didn’t have a clue, I just said 1 its an art form, not a sport & 2 most decent skateboarders would fail the drugs test then 3 That’s the end of the interview…
MS: What do you love about Manchester?
BG: Everything! The music, skate spots, the people – music influences me a lot. The Stone Roses are still my favourite band. Growing up you had music linked to each section on the skateboarding videos. Hip hop, rock indie psycadelic, house, trash metal, punk, acid house it opens your mind to more things and you grow up quicker.
MS: What kind of fashion are you into right now?
BG: I love all kinds of fashion. When I’m skating I rock a Zukie tee shirt, a brand set up by very good friends of mine. When I’m out and about I mainly wear smart clothes, really into mod suits and shirts..
MS: Sounds cool, tell us more about Zukie Clothing?
Ben: I got involved with Zukie about 3 years ago, which was set up by my good friends Dougie (from McFly), Bomber & Jason and I work closely with them. When I met Jamie AKA Bomber & Jason Perry & a few other guys, I’d just moved back from London up to Manchester so it was a new thing for me, a really cool fresh brand. Now, 3 yrs on we’ve changed the game and gone into kids clothing. So we’re launching a Zukie juniors range of kids skatewear early March. It’s NBD – Never Been Done. We’re launching this at Selfridges in London, which is going to be massive. They are even building a skatepark which I am involved with, we are going to be making a limited edition Selfridges skateboard too.
We’ll be making 50 skateboards all of which will be hand designed by Simon Mitchell – I’m going to be the face of the brand, a bit of an idol figure for the kids am really looking forward to helping promote this.
Apart from his work with Zukie Clothing, Ben’s connection with fashion is very evident. Grove is currently sponsored by Supra footwear, Bondi Beer, Smuggling Duds (boxer shorts), Shape Junk Hardware, Note Skate Shop Manchester and YO ‘Your Own’ set up by the guys behind Gio Goi.