Concrete Jungle

10 years ago, The Terrible Company celebrated it’s 10th anniversary. This was also the year The Terrible Company died. Concrete Jungle was the final video put out by The Terrible Company during it’s initial 10 year run. If you haven’t seen it before here’s a bit of backstory behind it.

The Story Of Concrete Jungle

OK, clearly Terribleco did not die. I wouldn’t be sat here writing about the blog’s 20th anniversary if that were true. But Concrete Jungle sort of marks the end of what The Terrible Company was previously, and once it returned it wasn’t ever quite the same again. I think in some ways it’s better now than it ever was before, and in some ways the old version of this blog was way better than what it is now, but Concrete Jungle was the last time Terribleco was truly a Coventry scene blog.

In 2013 things were going really well – celebrating 10 years of doing all sorts of skateboarding stuff in Coventry, I started work on what would be my 11th official skate video. The previous year I had been involved in putting together The Summer Jam, there was somewhat of a new direction and vibe for the blog, and Concrete Jungle was a greater experimentation into how I could expand into making videos that were purely online, but offered the deluxe feeling that used to come with buying a skate video on VHS or DVD.

I had planned out a little mini site with extras and more information – a sort of small hub to surround the video and make it feel more special than everything else that was cropping up on YouTube. I have always been better at making digital artwork over printed physical media anyway, so this suited me down to the ground.

Following Cannonball Holocaust’s approach, the line up of skaters was originally meant to shake things up again and introduce a fresh lineup of new faces. We had Connor “Duffman” Lomas: one of the raddest kids skating in the city. Stan Byrne: gnarly as hell and incredibly fun to watch on a skateboard. We also managed to import Ant Smith (who was living in Rugby at the time). Ant was an absolute machine who had been sponsored by a few companies from around the Kettering area, where he grew up. He had impressed us all with some serious bangers with the odd clip in previous videos, so it only seemed right to give him the curtains in this video.

Plans to bring in some more fresh faces fell short when people I had planned to film moved away. Some of these people have a couple of guest tricks and lines in the video’s opening montage. In order to make up for this, Swampy, Lucas and myself were featured in somewhat watered down capacity to fill the rest of the video’s 22 minute runtime.

Really Concrete Jungle is sort of a half measure. It was filmed in roughly half a year and was rushed out during the summer of 2013. Following this video’s release the blog would enter it’s hiatus: partially caused by me moving out of Coventry, and sort of admitting I was too far removed from the scene to be the person who documented what was happening in it. The second part of this story is really about why that happened and redefining what was the relationship between The Terrible Company and Coventry.

Terribleco Is Dead. Long Live Terribleco.

I thought had to kill the blog (sorry for the dramatic phrasing, but that is how I phrased it when this all went down the first time) because from the get go the blog was inexplicably tied to Coventry skateboarding. Trying to document Coventry skateboarding from a flat in the countryside 45 minutes from Coventry didn’t seem like it was possible, or fair to the people who were skating in the city, and documenting it far better than me.

What Concrete Jungle marks is a severance of what I thought The Terrible Company was when I started, and what I now know it to be: It was never really representative of the whole Coventry scene. It was always a depiction of local skateboarding through my eyes. It was so bloody obvious. A guy called Ade The Terrible goes around filming shit for a blog called The Terrible Company – the name was never tied to one specific location, and that should have been obvious the minute we started filming skaters who called Leicester, Birmingham, Rugby, Croydon, Kent and Barrow In Furness home.

Photo / Lucas Healey nosegrinding up at the tech park back in 2013 / Photo by Ryan Bradley

Of course this didn’t stop The Terrible Company from making Coventry scene videos. Ghostface bears the mark of being, in my eyes, a Coventry scene video, and it is the first video I have made to hold that honour since Concrete Jungle. That isn’t because I’m making some overblown return to being the “Cov skate scene guy” or anything, it’s just because I spend most of my time skating in Coventry now, and skate mostly with people who are from the city.

A lot of the videos I was making in the interim between Concrete Jungle and Ghostface featured various faces from the Warwickshire scene, from Leamington, Nuneaton, Stratford, and all of the small villages and towns in between. This isn’t really a far cry from what I was up to when Concrete Jungle came out – as I said, we had Rugby-based Ant Smith in the video, and Stan Byrne had spent half of his youth living in nearby Kenilworth (incidentally the same place Ghostface closer Zac Parkinson calls home). The “Coventry” part of The Terrible Company’s home base has always come attached with a vague “& Warwickshire”.

Terribleco was never directly tied to Coventry, then. That much was clear. And that is why, in 2016, I decided that my premature declaration of The Terrible Company’s death was perhaps a bad idea. There were a number of things that occurred in this hiatus between 2013 and 2016 that were good, and some that were bad. By the time 2016 came around I was a 31 year old with gradually deteriorating mental health, who had lost all confidence and motivation from not skating enough and focusing too much on a job that burnt me out.

I have always enjoyed skateboarding, but making skateboard videos was something I enjoyed immensely, and I really missed it. Not skating enough, and not filming or editing, put me in a really dark place. Having a creative outlet outside of work is such a necessity: I really recommend everyone put their time into an artistic hobby. And I don’t just mean “skateboarding”, I mean drawing, photography, music, film making, anything. For me, putting a skate video together is my big artsy outlet that I need to stay sane. It combines graphic design, film making and, of course, skateboarding. And without it I have often felt really, genuinely awful.

Photo / Stan Byrne bonelessing on a roof in 2013 / Photo by Tom Illsley

What’s worth mentioning is that after Concrete Jungle, I was always under the impression that I made these videos “for the scene”. But that was a naive and frankly pompous load of bullshit. They were always for me. Everything The Terrible Company does was always for me to feel some form of accomplishment from doing something creative, going through the process of making a thing, and seeing it through. And, trust me, that is a fucking miracle. I am horrible at seeing things through. Most other creative endeavours I take on end with me getting bored. One of the reasons I really enjoy my job is because I get to do the fun, artsy visual shit on games and ignore all the complicated programming shit I get bored attempting.

The Terrible Company videos are a rare instance where I have this incredibly arduous, thankless creative project, and through some weird mixture of events I can put up with it long enough to see it through. When I made Ghostface, I had a genuine worry that tinkering away on it until it’s done, no matter how long that takes, would ultimately have me getting bored of it and pushing out something half baked… But that didn’t happen. I put out a video I genuinely loved making and watching. Something about skateboard videos just has that pull for me, and the events following Concrete Jungle taught me that.

Will The Terrible Company ever be what it was when I filmed Concrete Jungle? No. But that’s OK. Because I think what it turned into afterwards was something far more confident and focused. And I don’t know if I would have figured that out if it wasn’t for Concrete Jungle, and the dumb public declaration that this blog was dead in 2013. For anyone who had been used to Terribleco at that time, that statement was true – but what replaced it when the blog eventually returned in 2016 was perhaps a lot more honest and creatively free than it had been before.

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