by Andrew Currie
Bogs Back Tails the Dwindle Mini, 2014. Photo Reda (Cheers Karnt)
Not only is Al Boglio one of the most naturally gifted and stylish skateboarders to ever come out of Australia, he’s also one of the original Hoon Runners from that very first trip we did in the summer of 1999. With the release of Al Boglio’s ‘Guest Bro Model’ on Hoon Skateboards, it’s a great honour to have a yarn with him about ‘back in the day’, early influences, and what many still consider to be the most influential Australian Skateboard company in our history – the one that inspired the very graphic for his guest board - Time.
If you’re under 30, this interview will probably bore you to shit. However, if, like me, you’re on approach to the big 4-0, I’d suggest slipping into your most comfy grandpa slippers and crackin’ a cold one to cherish the memories.
Going way back, can you talk a bit about the era of the Snake Pit skate shop videos?
The good ol’ Snake Pit days hey - you had moved to Melbourne from the Goldy (Gold Coast, Qld) to work at the shop so I just had to follow. I’d just finished PBC (Palm Beach Currumbin) High, turned 18, and all I wanted to do was skate and be around the best of skateboarding, which was Melbourne. I moved in with my Grandma in South Caulfield and got a job at the Pit soon after.
We were so influenced by World (Industries) in those days that we wanted to re-create our own videos. ‘Tongue Biters’ was the first Snake Pit video, which was filmed on my parents Video 8 camera.
It started by hanging out with Ryan Denereaz, Ben Harriss and Greg Stewart - those three were so fucking stylish and ahead of everyone in Oz at the time. I looked up to them and they elevated my game, that’s for sure. Being around Tas and Ben (Pappas) too - they were so determined, mischievous and free, is what I remember of that time. Also Gregor Rankine and Gary Valentine were a big influence - the whole driving factor that skateboarding could also be your life long dream. What else pops to mind? The non-stop vibing and shit talking too (laughs) - I think that’s where I learnt my defence game - be on top or get fucked!
Can you tell us a bit about the period leading up to you and Westy (Christian West) starting Time Skateboards?
In February of ‘93 Ben Pappas and I flew to Tampa to meet with Tas (Pappas). I had saved enough for a flight and had $900 in my pocket from working at Snake Pit. I thought I was going to be chilling for months - little did I know. What kids don’t know these days is that they have it so fuckin’ easy; flights here and there, per diem, etc . . . we did what we did for the pure love of skateboarding and the thrill of not knowing what tomorrow would bring to the table. Tampa was so crazy, living at the skatepark, Brian Schaeffer looking after us and showing us the ropes, working at TJ Tents next door with crack heads and jail birds for $5 an hour, getting kicked out of Disneyworld, jumping out of planes, hanging out with (John) Montesi . . . I also remember Andrew Reynolds as a kid asking me to ride for Birdhouse because (Tony) Hawk was stoked on some switch flip I did in a 411, but I just shined that and kept on raging with Tas and Ben. I think I did two months there, which was enough. I had filmed Tas for his Mad Circle video part, and Steve Douglas got me some money for it, enough to buy a Greyhound bus ticket to San Francisco, which turned into three days of hell with Tas and Ben on acid the whole way, and then we crashed at Justin Girard’s (owned Mad Circle Skateboards) for two months. SF was the pinnacle – EMB (Embarcadero) - vibe city!
Westy was flying into LA, so I made my way down there and stayed with you and Skip Engblom (founder of Santa Monica Airlines skateboard company), which to this day was probably one of my fondest memories. This guy would tell us stories every night that shaped us, I’m sure. He was a talking book and I’m glad to have met him and kept in touch the past 20 years.
You got me on SMA through Skipper, and we were skating Venice and Santa Monica all the time, and then I just remember Skipper driving Westy and I down the 405 to Foundation in San Diego. We were in the back of his ute flying down the highway!
So yeah, (Steve) Berra takes Westy and I to the YMCA and we connect with Tas and Ben - debauchery in Cardiff by the Sea, seriously, living off ramen noodles and Olde English, which Westy could down one after another. Ben was skating for Prime, which lead to Westy and I hanging out with that crew. Westy started filming the guys for the Prime video and we both ended up living at (Kris) Markovich’s parents for three months. Kris told me to film a couple of tricks for his part, and then one night, (Jason) Maxwell, Caine Gayle and Kris asked me to skate for Prime. I couldn’t believe it! That got me so amped but my time was up in the USA. I had to fly out for immigration reasons. I was going to miss getting those World boxes every 2 weeks - fuckin’ Ghetto Wear shorts and 101 boards were the best, full lottery every box.
Let’s talk a bit more about the Prime vid (click here to watch) – I noticed a lot of Heelflipping going on in that part – what was the inspiration behind your Heelish onslaught?
I never had a good poppy Kickflip. I’d ruined my front ankle’s ligament in Melbourne prior and just never had the right flick again. Heel flips were just easier to pop.
Can you give us a bit of insight into ‘Mulder Arm’?
Who didn’t spin the handbag around? Again, World videos influenced all of us on so many levels - vibing, skating, style … that Mulder arm was dope, almost as dope as Jason Jesse’s arm, but only a few could replicate that one. (Jason) Ellis had a good Jesse arm.
Kickflip Indy on vert! What the fuck! Where did that come from?
That was just hanging out with Gregsies (Stewart) and Ben (Pappas) at Prahran. Plan B’s Virtual Reality, Danny Way & Colin McKay were big influences - they skated vert like street.
Ben taught me how to do those, I made one or two - that was it. Greg made it look so high above the coping (laughs)!
What would say was the heaviest trick for you to film in that Prime part? That Switch Pop-Shove over the bubbler at Wallenberg would have to be up there seeing as it was your last trick.
Most of that part I had filmed in Melbourne before getting on Prime. I think some of the hardest stuff was prior. Maybe that Noseslide in San Francisco, the hubba near the China banks. That Switch Poppy was terrible, I always thought. I remember almost making a Switch Backside Flip over it … but yeah . . . nah. I probably got the better shit while on Prime when I came back to OZ, shooting my interview for Slam with Mike (O’Meally) - Roma Street Hubba, hitting handrails and shit proper for the first time.
Who, out of your early influences, were you most chuffed to skate and hang with in that era?
Kris Markovich was such a legend, yet so accessible and cool to Westy and I. I couldn’t believe the guy that changed skate interviews for ever, with that (Dan) Sturt black and white magic, was just like me or you - a fuckin’ skate rat.
I’m sure I got to skate with lots of crew in that time - HUF (Keith Hufnagel) is another one that was super fuckin’ cool, like Kris … but I think I was just chuffed to skate with my Ozi crew deep down - you, (Matt) Mumford, Tas, Ben, Westy, Greg, Harriss, then Dion (Kovac), Wade (Burkitt), Zinga (Zane Kovac), O’Meally and so on . . . crew that I could relate to and vibe off.
And what was the basic motivation to start Time Skateboards?
I got back to Oz after the whole USA / getting on Prime thing, and I was told I was getting boxes of 10 boards sent to me every two weeks to help finance my return flight to LA. I got 20 boards in six months, faxed Kris Markovich and (Mark) Oblow saying I was over it and quit. Westy and I started Time out of his parent’s garage in Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast in early ’95. There was room for a solid bonza skate company. I mean you had Burford Blanks, Omni, Righteous and Squid Squad at that time . . . so it was about bloody time something fresh could see the light.
Years later, Dion told me his mate from school used to steal all my boxes from the Currumbin post office. He was the courier van driver that was meant to deliver my boxes. No wonder Dwindle stopped printing their boxes a few years back.
First Time ad - 1995
What’s the story behind that OG Clock logo?
We packed up and moved from the Goldy to Sydney in May of 1995 – moved in with Wade, Dion and Westy to Darlinghurst - 263 Bourke Street. Fuck those times were good! Wade took us under his wing and would always protect me I remember. A lot of the Sydney crew were hating on us - maybe we skated better and had more fun at the Good Bar . . . who fuckin’ knows?
Wade would always isolate himself in his room and one day he came up with the OG clock drawing which I still have laminated to this day.
Throughout it’s approximate 5 year history, who were some of the guys you were most stoked to have on the team?
I think you and Seb Steele. Your part in Money still stands by today’s standard, and as for Seb - just his pure power and fearless approach - he was our Jeff Pang, (Sean) Sheffey or Mickey Reyes on the team. Remember how Big Brother (magazine) were just frothing at the mouth with all his shenanigans! Seb, as with Wade, always had my back no matter how much of a little shit I was - cheers boys!
Sid Tapia was also massive for us - it united me with Sydney and the CLS crew. Sid was just pure. Nothing bad can be said about him. Pistolas!
Do you believe Time Skateboards affected the Australian skateboarding scene in any long-term sense?
Again, Time was just a product of the influence we resonated with in the early 90’s. World were starting these new brands, and we were there at the right time and became the biggest Australian brand for that period. We had Schmitt wood, just like Welcome or FA today, so we must have been cool (laughs).
As far as influencing others since 2000, many companies formed but not many had the vibe and family sense. Hoon Wheels to me was the biggest thing since Time - you had big time pros backing it. The whole Hoon vibe is what skateboarding is today; no boundaries, and just the Ozi flavour. Pontus has got Polar going on that same vibe, Jeremie and I for Cliché, etc . . . If the team gets it then you have something you can be proud of. Hanging at the donut bowl, Salk Oval, with you, Pat (Dandy) and the crew, you’ve still got the vibe that will always burn through the ages. You can’t cheat skateboarding - the brands that stand strong are the ones that care for skateboarding.
Was there anyone on the radar for Time who never actually got on?
I think getting Wade on would have been sick but he was on the Zero program at the time.
Getting a Slap cover in ’97 puts you in a very elite handful of Aussie skaters to have landed page 1 of a Seppo mag. How much of a highlight was that for you, and would you say ’97 was the peak year of your skateboarding career?
Australia was the place to travel for any American pros back in ‘96/’97, and funnily enough, we were content being here and skating our own way, not influenced by the US then. I remember Lance Dawes (Slap Magazine Editor) came out for a while, and we got that photo across from the Chifley Plaza one night. That was it, thought nothing of it.
1997 was definitely the year of the rollercoaster. I was still doing Time with Westy, got heartbroken by some girl and filmed that ‘Money’ part on anger - Darth and The Emperor would have been proud – that’s the best I ever skated I think. Westy looked after me over a few rough months, we got the video out, premiered it in some cinema near Martin Place, Seb smashed a road barrier through Prudential’s pane glass, and then I returned to the USA to meet up with Tas again.
Time - Money. 1997
I did a few months over in Seppo, then came back to Oz to really focus on Time with Westy - get the right financials to bank roll the thing, call Paul Schmitt, get the wood and move forward. So yeah, 1997 was the year I skated to my peak and where I took Time seriously with Westy. It was also the year I met Jeremie Daclin, who was telling me he was keen to start a Euro skate brand. Cliché was already in motion and I was in without knowing it.
Why did Time end?
The engine got too big and we only had so much fuel to pump in. There were a few factors really - someone had our minimum board/shape orders at Schmitt tripled, which brought us to a stand still. One Aussie dollar for 50 US cents probably didn’t help in 2000 either, and there was the introduction of GST which was a big unknown to us. I then blew my ACL out and was getting a little lost as far as what and where I needed to be.
I flew to New Caledonia in May 2000 for a couple of months, then travelled the world for a year, reading The Alchemist, searching for that personal legend. Morocco to Cliché.
What are your fondest memories from that very first Hoon Run in ‘99?
Wow – that first Run! Will it, or has it ever been matched? You are the only one to answer that Cuz. We packed three cars full of Hoons and jetted south. 18 crew, no money, but lots of time on or hands -camping in the pouring rain somewhere in the bush, walking down the beach that morning seeing wallabies on the beach and Bondy (Clint Bond) on acid fighting his imaginary ancestors from PNG in the bush (laughs). Getting kicked out of the Melbourne Casino because (Cam) Goozeff sparked a joint near the boxer pokie next to me . . . c’mon! So much shit went down that the more I think of it the more I think this can not be re-created.
Through all that you’ve been involved with working in the skateboard industry (Al is currently the Brand Manager of Cliché Skateboards) over the years, what’s changed the most, and what’s stayed the same?
Skateboarding is gnarlier than ever, but real skateboarders are exactly the same as they’ve always been.