The “4Down” Tour Video

Over the past 20 years of this blog, I have filmed 4 tour videos. I always gravitate towards Sittin’ On The Toilet as the first one, but really by the time that video and My Big Fat Gypsy Road Trip came around, I already had experience making tour videos. There was the Ride “Day Trip” video I made for Jim The Skin in 2006, but I often forget about 2007’s “4Down” Tour Video. Here’s some guff about it.

Credit where credit is due: 4Down was not my idea, it was Andy Scott’s. Andy was a long time Cov skater who was equally motivated, creative and inspired by local skateboarding as myself. He’s filmed plenty of his own videos in the past, and more recently curates video content for skateboarding insta-blog Ghost Town Social Club. At the time we skated together a lot, and Andy was trying to get a group of local skaters together to embark on a long weekend skate trip. This formed the basis of the tour video.

The plan was to travel up to Stoke On Trent, spend the day there, then come back to Coventry. The next day we would travel down to Milton Keynes, then head into London, and spend the rest of the weekend down there skating parks.

There were guests who dipped in and out for each day, but the core of the line up were Andy, Ralph Cooper, Chris Wickes and myself. Chris Wickes, aka Wiss, was an early-grabbing, bert-sliding, fun skater who I got on with really well. We had a strong crew for the majority of the trip, with guests like Chris Mander coming along for the odd session.

We loaded into Andy’s car for day 1, and made our way up the M6 to Stoke On Trent. At the time Stoke Plaza was arguably the best outdoor skatepark in the country. It was a gigantic plaza filled with ledges, banks and stair sets, with an intimidating bowl at the very top of the park. It was the perfect place to kick things off.

We spent all day hitting up the park, filming lines that spanned from the top all the way to the bottom. Andy and Ralph scoped out interesting gaps all over the place. Me, Wiss and Chris Mander spent our time hunting for any transition related obstacle in the park and doing whatever nonsense we could on it.

You know, I film these little bits of banter in videos but never remember the conversations that led to them. Andy’s declaration that “They don’t have molluscs in Instanbul” has seemingly no context whatsoever and I can’t remember the conversation that came before.

Day 2 was at Milton Keynes Plaza. At the time this skatepark was still pretty new, and revolutionary. It’s a skatepark made up entirely of ledges, hidden away round the back of the old MK bus station. If you are a street skater in the UK I don’t need to explain this thing to you, you already know about it.

The “Buszy” (as it is affectionately known to the locals) is where I met my wife Emily, and by the time the 4Down tour was happening I had been going out with her for a year. She was never much of a fan of the Buszy for skateboarding, because she likes transitions and never really had an appetite for ledge skating, but she came along to hang out for the day.

We were also joined by Alex Forse, another Coventry local who had hopped on the train with some mates to go skate the Buszy, and ended up meeting us there by pure coincidence. This meant we had a pretty strong crew in attendance, and whilst I’ve never been much of a ledge skater, Andy and Ralph were all over it.

With MK Plaza done and dusted, we jumped on the train and headed to a hostel in London, that would allow us to get to all of the local parks. I don’t remember much about this place (it was a hostel, they’re all kinda the same, full of backpacking young people who smell, just like us). For some unknown reason Andy shaved his balls whilst we were there, and he was incredibly sweaty down there for the rest of the trip. For the first night we were all in the same room, which was pretty rad – we could just hang out and we all got a decent night’s sleep on account of being knackered from skating all day.

Day 3 saw us finally head out to skate in London. We would tackle the Whitegrounds skatepark, and the legendary Southbank spot. Whitegrounds is a packed in little concrete park in some tunnel arches, it’s very quirky and weird – from what I can tell it’s still popular amongst the London locals, but when we got there it was kinda fresh, and had a weird “opening times” setup, like an indoor park (without the entry fee). Southbank needs no introduction. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by pretending you don’t know what Southbank is.

On the way to the first park, we stumbled across the London branch of The Church of Scientology. Andy was trying to egg us all on to go in and basically take the piss out of the people inside. At the time there were a lot of accusations and media flying around about Scientology being a scam that had hooked in many of the rich and famous. It had even pulled in skateboarding’s big names like Jason Lee and Steve Berra.

Wiss and myself were uncomfortable going inside, but Andy and Ralph saw this as a prime chance to have a laugh. They went inside, feigned interest to hear the sales pitch, and then promptly legged it. What I filmed of this was the two of them making a run for it, legging it across the road, and a firm declaration from Ralph: “Scientology sucks, dude”.

I just realised by posting that anecdote above I’m likely to get flagged by some sort of Scientology watchdog that’s going to be tracking The Terrible Company from now on. MORE PEOPLE VIEWING THE BLOG, YEAH BABY.

We got to Whitegrounds and skated the park for a few hours – it was always a bit damp on account of it being under an old bridge, but either way we still enjoyed it. The park is a bit of a weird one: it’s so narrow and every inch of space is taken up with something that can only be attacked in an awkward manner. This definitely makes the park interesting, but we were all hyped on going to Southbank, so after about an hour we made our way over there.

Southbank, at the time, was mostly closed off (this was just prior to the decade long battle to save the spot, and eventually return it to it’s former glory), so Andy and Ralph got busy on the ledges. I skated the bank a fair bit and cruised around. After Whitegrounds I was pretty knackered so I mostly just filmed Ralph handle the stairs like a pro.

That night we got split up into two different rooms. I think me and Ralph took one room, and Andy and Wiss went to the other. We were sharing the room with some other people who were not there when we went to sleep. I’ve always been a light sleeper and the slightest noise will always wake me up – so when a group of loud, obnoxious Australians got to the room I was ripped right out of my slumber.

For any Australians reading this: I have nothing against Australia. I love Neighbours. Chris Hemsworth is awesome. Margot Robbie is the bomb. I worked on Forza Horizon 3, which was set in Australia. You make the best muscle cars (Holden’s are the best, American muscle cars can suck it). Having said that, these Australians who we were stuck with in the hostel were the fucking worst.

They bombed in at 3 in the morning, and were incredibly loud. Straight away they started shouting about how they were sharing their room with other people. Then they started complaining that we both stank (I mean, of course we did, we had been skating all day and the shower at the hostel didn’t work). And then they started shining lights in our faces and taking the piss out of us. This bullshit went on for about an hour in the night before they finally shut up and decided to actually sleep.

Ralph had all but slept through this, but I had to put up with it, and by the time morning came around I was ready for revenge. I told Ralph all about it and we decided to be loud, obnoxious, kick their beds and basically be the worst possible room mates to be around when you have a hangover in a foreign country. We opened the curtains, smacked our boards everywhere, and made derogatory comments about “Loud dickheads coming in at 3 in the morning”. We kicked their luggage about, farted on our way out and shouted a ton to really make their hangovers unpleasant. You don’t fuck with Ade The Terrible’s beauty rest.

Day 4 was at Bay 66 skatepark. Bay 66 has somewhat of a comical history regarding corporate sponsorship: The park was originally a Sony publicity stunt, named after their flagship video game console Playstation (it even featured in the PS1 Sony published skateboarding game Grind Session), but by the time we got to the park, Microsoft’s Xbox division had bought it and rebranded it as Bay 66. It was covered in Xbox branding and had Xbox360’s in a special “gaming room”.

Ralph and Andy had a very funny conversation about this (which is partially recorded in the video), about how Ralph thought it was hilarious that Xbox had bought out a Playstation skatepark, whilst Andy thought it was, and I quote, “pathetic”. Knowing what I know now about the video game industry, I don’t think this was a calculated move – a skatepark has very little relation to the actual success and business of a video game console.

What I think happened is that Sony got tired of paying for the upkeep of the skatepark, so Microsoft just so happened to step in. When Microsoft got bored of it, NikeSB stepped in. When NikeSB got bored of it, Rockstar Games pumped in some cash and plastered their logo on the walls. It’s quite unusual for an indoor skatepark to receive that level of funding and support from such high profile companies (the only other example I can think of in the UK is Rush Skatepark in Stroud, that had a huge advertising deal with Superdry), and I think that’s why the Playstation VS Xbox debate around the skatepark was so prominent.

London locals will tell you more, but Bay66 is a really fun skatepark. I wish I’d had the chance to skate it more often, but that day in particular we had a rad session. It was a rad way to cap off our 4 day tour.

4Down was all about good friends and rad banter, and it came at a time where I was still trying to figure out what Terribleco was. Compared to later tour videos which were filmed at a time where I knew exactly what this blog was, 4Down was still steeped in mid-2000’s indie trappings, odd fashion and the haze of youth.

Like most of my videos from this era I was heavily inspired by major skate videos I had seen, and 4Down was a love letter to Stereo’s Way Out East, from the graphic design of the titles, to the use of the word “Operatives” to describe “friends of the blog who were filming stuff with me at the time”.

I can tell you one thing for sure though: 4Down put me off staying in hostels with complete strangers ever again. Those Australians were THE WOOOOORST.

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