Mike Simons is a product of Leicester’s iconic skate scene – consisting of skaters I always enjoyed skating with every Wednesday night back in the late 2000’s at The Boardroom. Whilst the city was at the time most well known for the Get Lesta videos (which were decidedly more hip-hop tinged, and definitely more based in technical street skating), Mike was this punk rock, all terrain shredding, Ramones-esque destroyer skating like someone had pointed a remote control at him and hit the fast forward button. 10 or so years on, and he still has a flair for fast, technical tricks done with dexterity and style. I got him to answer some questions about his history in Leicester skateboarding, being hooked up by Death Skateboards, and backyard mini ramps. – Ade
For anyone not familiar, can you introduce yourself?
I’m Mike Simons and I’m from Leicester.
How did you first get into skateboarding?
The same as most people my age – I got Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for Christmas, and then the following Summer I got a board for my birthday.
Who influenced your style and the way you skate?
The first video I ever saw was Flip Sorry, which was a pivotal moment for me. It opened me up to new music, and the skateboarding in it blew me away, and still does. But the obvious influences on me growing up were Corey Duffel, and all of the early 2000s “hesh” videos. I was really into like That’s Life, Dying To Live, New Blood, Black Out, Slaughterhouse and Escape From Boredom. All the classics really, haha!
I’ve always associated you with the Leicester scene, how long have you been local to Leicester?
I’ve lived here all my life. I grew up on the Braunstone Estate, which is a couple of miles out of the city centre.
I remember meeting you at The Boardroom – When did you first start skating there?
I would’ve started going to The Boardroom around ’04 or ’05, when it was in a tiny unit at the top of four flights of stairs. How Dave ever got the material up there is a miracle.
What obstacle at The Boardroom do you miss skating the most?
I really used to enjoy skating the rail out of the kicker. I could skate that for hours. But, like everyone who grew up skating Broom, the little mini ramp was obviously the best thing ever. It was slightly steeper than most ramps that size and that’s why it was the best.
That mini is probably my favourite mini ramp ever! What’s the best trick you saw go down at the park?
Josh Walters’ Back Noseblunt on the big quarter was amazing. And Shumba did the NAC first go, that was the best thing ever.
What was the best trick you ever did at The Boardroom?
I shot an amazing Benihana photo with Matt Clarke once, haha! That, or maybe when I was trying to front 3 nosegrab the spine, and took out a kid with my board? The clip’s on Youtube somewhere.
What’s the Leicester scene like now with The Boardroom gone?
It took a massive blow. The year before we had lost Ledge Skateshop, which was the main meet up spot. Then Broom became the main meet up spot, and then we lost that and it was devastating. Even now, I’m gutted about it. From that, the scene became a bit staggered. People go to their local outdoor: the 4 main parks being Braunstone, Vicky Park, South Wigston and Syston, but we are missing that key meet up spot. Hopefully that’s about to change with a new indoor park in the works – look up @skateparlour on Instagram. Yus and Lilly are working really hard getting it going.
What was the deal with Jagboot Skateshop?
Jagboot was started because Leicester doesn’t have a proper Skateshop. The idea was to slowly build up to a proper bricks and mortar shop. It was basically me selling boards out of the back of my old Jaguar (R.I.P) and doing pop up shops at events/hosting events. But when I came to upscale and got in contact with distributors about opening a proper shop I was having trouble securing brands because a snowboard/diving shop have a monopoly over a lot of hardware, and a fashion shop have a lot of the clothing brands locked in.
A few distributors were keen to help me and get on board but I felt I just needed a few more key brands to justify quitting my job and going for it. Jagboot is currently on hiatus due to the board shortage: I didn’t want to stop proper shops from being able to get product that they might depend on for income, but a Skateshop is something I would definitely love to pursue.
You got hooked up by Death Skateboards (which, to be honest, is a totally natural fit) – How did that come about?
It was at one of the annual Broom comps. I was just chatting to Nick Zorlac one year and I might have even been skating a Death board. I skated well in the comp, and the next week Tim, who owned Ledge, was doing a Death order and asked about me getting boards and I’ve been getting boards ever since.
Who are your favourite skaters on the Death team?
That’s a tough one, everyone kills it. Eddie Belvedere and Charlie Spelzini have both put out parts recently that are sick.
What’s your favourite thing about Death?
Just the DIY ethos was something that always appealed to me. Nick is also the best guy, and is 100% down for skating whatever time, whatever spot, and would go out of his way to make sure anyone on the team is doing okay and has everything they need.
Have you ever skated Dan Cates’ backyard pool?
Yeah it’s great! He’s literally living the dream.
Do you know if “The Death House” is still a thing? Have you been there?
Yeah, the House Of Doom is still a thing. I’m not sure if any of the riders are currently living there at the moment. I’ve spent many nights on the sofa.
Other than Death, what other board company would you love to skate for?
How much are they offering? Haha, nah, I’m Death for life, and wouldn’t want to skate for anyone else. But other brands I’m into are Skateboard Cafe, Pass-Port, Hockey, Welcome, and I’m still a sucker for a Zero video.
You’ve been featured in videos from both Get Lesta and Baghead Crew – sometimes within the same year! How did you manage to gather that much footage for two different filmers?
It’s a miracle really… I only have about 4 tricks, and 3 of them are grabs, haha. I just spent all of my free time filming. Once you get the ball rolling, and spend enough time trying, you can make something work. There’s a good quote, and I can’t remember where I read it, but it’s pretty funny, and goes along the lines of “Never let a complete lack of talent keep you from realizing your dreams”.
What are the differences in filming with Callun Loomes and Forde Brookfield?
Usually filming with Cal, we would have specific spots or tricks in mind, whereas with Forde we would usually just be out and something random would come together.
What’s your favourite Get Lesta video?
What’s Cooking is one of my favourites, mainly for Kelley’s part. I really don’t like my section in that video though.
What’s your favourite Baghead Crew video?
The first one, Baghead Kills, for Jim Spencer’s part, and the last one, Funeral, because I really feel Forde pushed himself to release something he was truly proud of.
You’ve got a sick backyard mini ramp! Did you build it yourself?
Yeah, I’m a carpenter by trade and always wanted to do it ever since I was a kid. But some people came round and helped me finish it off.
What are your rates if anyone wanted to hire you to build a ramp?
Haha, it all depends on the size. Mine cost around £700 just for materials, not including getting the ground level and putting an aggregate base down.
What’s the best backyard mini ramp you’ve ever skated?
The one at the House Of Doom is amazing. Everything about it is perfect. I’m pretty sure it has been resurfaced recently, so as soon as Covid fucks off I need to go down and skate it. It’s been way too long.
What’s your favourite flip trick/lip trick combo?
Blunt Back Heel is my special move, haha.
What’s the one flip trick into lip trick that you wish you could do?
Wish I could do proper Flip Back D’s.
We need to settle this once and for all – Who gave Lucas Healey the nickname “Goose”? Because Forde is pretty convinced it was him.
I came up with it, and Forde made sure it stuck.
Anyone you want to thank?