DALE STARKIE INTERVIEW

Interview by Josh Hallett with Myles Rushforth
Photography by Graham Tait

 

D - Welllllll we are back…

 

J - Alright Dale! Where are we at and what’s been going on tonight?

D - It was my 25th birthday a couple of days ago and there was a bit of a surprise party tonight at my house and now we are at Brude and I’m pretty drunk. I haven’t been drunk in a while.

 

J - You don’t really drink do you?

D - I don’t drink often no. The taste of beer is shit. You know when you have your first beer and everyone says “You will get used to the taste”, well I never got used to it. So I’m sipping a double vodka lemonade now and that tastes much better.

 

M - Sorry, I’m quickly going to jump in here. Since we are kind of on the subject of birthdays, can you just tell us about your 21st birthday present?

D - I went away for a few days to Norway for my birthday and when I got back home there was this skateboard wallpaper over one of my walls in my bedroom. It was of a 14 year old kid doing a rocket ollie with skyscrapers in the background and it covers the whole wall. That was my 21st birthday present. 

 

J  - Well really it’s quite fitting because you are a huge grom and we love you for it.

D - Yeah, I'm quite a grom to be honest. That wallpaper in the bedroom really says it all. My 21st and that’s my present...”Thanks mum! Love you mum!”

 

J - When did you start skating?

D - I probably started about fifteen years ago. I kind of knew what skateboarding was but not really, so I would just push down the road on my knees. There was a pothole on my street and I had no idea that the board couldn't go over it, so I ended up smashing my face in. I thought that meant skateboarding wasn’t really for me. 

 

M - When did you first see real skateboarders?

D - Well some time after that face plant I was in the car with my mum in Newquay or Scarborough, somewhere around there…

 

Blunt Fakie (one push run up)

 

J - Opposite ends of the country…

D - …and I saw some skateboarders who were actually standing on their boards. So I asked her if I could get a board again and she was down. I would then just skate by myself and for about three years I didn’t really know what anything was. I thought the best thing you could actually do on a skateboard was ride down a hill.

 

J - Even after three years?

D - Honestly, all that time I had no idea what tricks were. I would just ride it down a hill on my own. I was pushing mongo and skating in K-Swiss with the tongue that flipped around and had a different pattern on each side. 

 

M - What was the first video you saw?

D - Well eventually I went to The Works and there was somebody there selling DVDs on the counter. I ended up buying ‘Bag Of Suck’ for a fiver. 

 

J - Hence why Jerry Hsu is your favourite skater?

D - Yep. Jerry is my favourite skater.

 

J - Is he really though? What about Bam?

D - Bam is pretty cool. After watching ‘Bag Of Suck’ I realised you can actually do tricks and they looked sick. I realised that this is the type of skateboarding I needed to be doing. Then around that time the whole Jackass thing came into my life. I’d watch ‘Viva La Bam’ a lot. Bam had his own park in his house and I’d think “Wow that’s fucking sick!” He was just a huge star wasn’t he? I was caught up in that whole vibe of Bam is the best skateboarder in the world. 

 

J - You briefly mentioned The Works. Growing up, how important was that place to you?

D - Very important! The place taught me how to learn the basics and I also met some of my closest friends there. The Works definitely had a big impact on my life.

 

BS Wallride

 

J - You were late-flipping every obstacle in the place.

D - Well watching Mike Wright skate there was crazy. He’d do late flips and I was blown away by them. I had a trampoline in my garden and that’s how I learned how to do them. Nollie late flips and backside 180 late flips became my go-to tricks. Haha!

 

J - The difference was Mike could do every trick and was probably doing the late flips as a laugh. You were putting in the time to learn them.

D - Yeah I definitely was. Mike had a special bar when skating that place. He’d do the most insane lines where the tricks got harder and harder.

 

J - He is the best skateboarder I’ve ever seen in person.

D - Yeah for sure. Just incredible.

 

J - Was it around this time you started skating for Popcorn?

D - Oh god, do we have to mention this? 

 

J - Yes because it’s strange that you got hooked up by a shop that is about 50 miles away from Leeds. I went into Popcorn years ago and bought their video. You had a part in it.

D - I’m pretty sure you’re the only person that bought that video. I linked up with those guys because I was filming some stuff at The Works one day and decided to put the footage on Facebook as a bit of a ‘sponsor me’ video. Somebody at Popcorn must have seen it and they reached out to me. They said they could give me cheap boards and hook me up with this and that. Being so young I was just stoked to be getting some product.

 

J - You were rocking a straightened fringe and New Era cap in those days.

D - It wasn’t New Era, it was a Diamond cap and I wore it backwards. Also, the fringe wasn’t straightened! That was just how it looked with the backwards cap. People say I used to wear it sideways but I definitely didn’t. Just imagine Lil’ Chris on a skateboard though, that was me.

 

J - How did you end up getting hooked up by Welcome? 

D - I knew Tom Brown from when he used to come to my school. He was a youth worker at the time and he’d tell me that he skated as well. I didn’t really believe him at first and thought he was just some guy trying to be down with the kids. Haha! One day he gave me the ‘Herald’ video which he was in with Mike Wright, Tom Harrison and loads of other Leeds guys. I also knew he was completely legit when I was watching the Extreme Sports channel and they did a bit on A Third Foot. He’d stopped pushing mongo by this point as well so I thought he was sick!

 

Kickflip

 

J - I’d seen you in that Popcorn video but didn’t have any idea who you were. I first heard of you through Welcome as Tom Brown, Leon Walton and Callum Francis would big you up back in the day. 

D - Well Tom had always told me that he wanted to open a shop in Leeds. There was definitely a need for one at that time.

 

J - Were you not skating when Wisdom and Exit were in Leeds?

D - I never went to Wisdom but I did go into Exit and that’s where I bought my first proper board from. Just a blank complete setup. 

 

J - So Welcome became your first real local skate shop then?

D - Yeah when it was under Crash Records on Briggate I would lurk in there and chill with Leon when he was working. I used to go out filming and then take the footage straight back to the shop and show them the trick I’d just done. I was stoked that those guys thought I was cool, but they probably didn’t. Haha!

 

J - You’ve mentioned Harrison. He was a bit of a hero to you right?

D - Harrison had a big influence on me.

 

M - What’s your favourite Harrison part?

D - There’s only one.

(laughter)

D - His Sidewalk ‘In Progress’ part where he did the nosepick at Man Bank. That’s actually insane. Pushing up to that spot and doing that trick is so ridiculous. He’s a legend for that!

 

J - The first time we went filming together you did a trick down the Tech 11 rail and your response to the footage was “Oh that was actually filmed alright."

D - I was just used to filming with lots of different people and most of the footage was just at The Works so I wasn’t particularly hyped on how a lot of it looked. That day with you was a little confusing though. I told you that I’d wanted to do that trick and you said that you were going to go home and walk your dog first. I wanted to front smith this rail but you just left and walked your dog instead. Haha! 

 

BS Nosegrind up and along Pop Out

 

J - Russell comes first. Always.

D - Yeah he does.

 

J - It worked out though. You did three tricks within fifteen minutes or so. That was very impressive to me because at that time I was filming Will Sheerin skating down five stairs. Actually, I still am.

D - Yeah it worked out I guess. I used to love skating that rail for some reason. 

 

M - How did you meet Josh?

J - I actually don’t remember.

D - Maybe my 18th birthday at Mike Arnold’s house? That was when we opened his wardrobe and it was empty apart for one Hawaiian shirt hung up. Haha! Or maybe it was that day we filmed at Tech 11. I don’t really know either.

 

J - Did you feel like you needed to skate the more famous Leeds spots to get noticed?

D - Not particularly. I was so oblivious to skateboarding and I didn’t really know what the famous spots were. For a long time I didn’t actually understand what nollie and switch were. 

 

J - Yeah when we met you couldn’t do much in nollie or switch.  

D - Definitely a strange time realising you had to re-learn everything again. Still learning it no.

 

J - You’ve had a few board hookups over the years haven’t you?

D - 14:01 was the first legit board sponsor I had. They must have heard of me through word of mouth or something because one day I got a call asking if I’d like to ride for them. They had, and still do have, a really good aesthetic and a good team.

 

J - That ‘Trio’ video they put out last year was really good.

D - When I rode for them it was all just starting out and I think the deal was two boards for £50 a month. I was really happy to be a part of it but I started skating with Mike Wright a lot more and the guys at Steak Skateboards hit me up. One month they sent me like eight boards, which was insane to me. I was about 17, on the same team as Mike Wright and had too many boards to get through. The Steak guys treated me really well and hooked me up with a lot of product regularly and I was really grateful for that. However, I wasn't particularly hyped on the actual brand so I wasn’t making much of an effort to film anything for them. I was just skating at The Works a lot. It was a training ground.

 

Heelflip

 

J - You rode for Would for a while as well.

D - Yeah, Tom Brown sorted that out for me. I think Cam Barr was riding for them around this time too. I went on a trip to Madrid with the team and got on with everyone but after that I didn’t see any of those boys for years. I began to feel like I wasn’t a part of it anymore and decided to part ways. Would really helped me out for a few years and I’ll always appreciate that.

 

J - How did you end up getting on Etnies?

D - I was at work one day and got a call from Gez at Sole Tech asking if I’d like to get some shoes. He said he’d heard about me and was keen to send me some product. I was so stoked and ended up telling everyone that night that I now ride for Etnies. Such a grom move! I really loved riding for Etnies over the years. We had a good crew at that time. Myles, Ben Rowles, Chris Mann, Jiri Bulin and Rikk Fields. Ben basically became a bit of a team manager and proposed the idea of making a short video. 

 

J - Yeah he was the driving force behind ‘Turkey’. That was a really fun time. 

D - Yeah it was. We worked hard on that for about a year and it was such a fun project. I thought the video was great and that maybe it would spark something and we could do more in the future.

 

M - We definitely thought that close crew and vibe would continue afterwards.

D - Maybe the lack of any budget was the reason but nothing really happened after we made that video. I wasn’t quite sure what I expected after that video, maybe some more interest into future projects or something, but that didn’t seem to happen. We pretty much made ‘Turkey’ by ourselves, then when it was done, that was it. 

 

J - There was a lack of a real team manager then though. This was before Kev was there.

D - Yeah it was. Shout out to Kev Parrott! When he started at Sole Tech, he put up with a lot of my shit to be honest. I was, and still am, very particular with the type of shoes I skate. There was basically one model of shoe that I liked skating and Kev was aways so helpful in getting it for me. He once rang me and asked me what I wanted to get out of riding for Etnies and I told him I want to be more than just a number on a piece of paper. I wanted to maybe go on some trips and help push the brand in any way I can. 

 

J - I get that. You’re not somebody who expects to get paid or anything. 

D - No not at all. I just wanted to be more involved, but it came to a point though where I was over it. Kev is still doing good shit over there though and I’m stoked that someone like Jiri has been going on more trips. Jiri is an amazing dude and an amazing skater. A new dad (congrats mate) and yet he’ll go out and switch backtail a handrail or something.

 

J - Haha! You’re not switch back tailing anything…

D - Not a chance.

 

Taildrop

 

J - Something I’ve always liked is that all you really want is respect from people that you admire. People like Marnold and Knox for example. 

D - If the people I look up to like Mike, Knox, Joe Gavin and Harrison are stoked on something that I do and give me some props, then I’m honestly over the moon. I really am happy with just that.

 

J - That’s sick. 

D - Yeah that feedback makes me want to do more and it makes me try harder. They are the skateboarders that I love the most and to hear anything positive from them is amazing.

 

J - Shall we talk about your anger?

D - Definitely. 

 

J - You do have quite a temper.

D - Well I had a brick laying job and my boss told me that if I broke anything that he would just fire me. That really hit me hard. My dad had gotten me the job and I wanted to prove my worth. When I would try a trick, all I would think about was the worst case scenario. I’d think that I would roll my ankle, break my wrist or even snap my neck. That isn’t the mindset you want to have when you trying something that scares you. So I get angry and start shouting and screaming but it’s always at myself.

 

J - How about the time you landed a trick but I didn’t like the way I filmed it. I asked you to do it again and broke your leg.

D - Oh man that was a weird one. That was just as I was about to start that brick laying job. I didn’t know I’d broken it, it just felt really weird and I walked on it. Haha! You made me walk to the hospital.

 

J - I didn’t make you walk! You were walking about so obviously I just thought you were fine. We went our separate ways and later that day I got a text from you. It was a photo of you in a full leg cast up to the hip. I felt so guilty but it was a really funny photo.

D - I was really close to the hospital and thought that it felt alright so I decided to take a normal step. I collapsed to the floor and realised something was definitely wrong. I limped into A&E, had the x-ray and it turned out to be broken. They put me in that full cast right up to my hip. That week I went to my boss on crutches and told him I couldn’t start the job yet and that’s when he told me if I broke anything else he would sack me. So basically, that’s where all my anger in skateboarding comes from.

 

BS Tailslide

 

J - Outside of skateboarding, what do you get up to?

D - I don’t have many other interests apart from my uni course and then working now and again. I guess a bit of a strange hobby I have is building Micro RC planes. Even before I started skating I was intrigued by how planes could fly. I would always build planes but they wouldn’t ever work because I was too young to understand the aerodynamics. Now that I’m older I understand it more and I’ve built many planes small enough to fly in my living room and that have a total weight of two grams. That probably doesn’t mean much to many people, but in the Micro RC world it’s quite impressive!

 

J - Over the last few years you’ve been riding for enjoi through Dwindle. How did that come about?

D - Because of you.

 

J - I think it was more because of Tom Brown but we did put you forward to Scott Howes at Dwindle.

D - I love Scott Howes. He always sorted me out big time. He got me over to the US for that Dwindle ‘Skatecation’ trip and threw me into the van with Louie Barletta and the rest of the enjoi team for their 2017 UK tour.

 

J - Tell us about the Louie Barletta slam.

D - Holy fuck. A signing at Native in Newcastle had just finished and we were walking down a cobbled street. Louie was on his phone and about to get into a taxi when he slipped off the curb, rolled his ankle and hit the ground. I love his video parts and I watch them a lot, but this was on par with any slam I’ve seen him take. His phone went under the taxi and everything. He rolled his ankle, took it to his knee, then to his hip and just crumbled on the ground. I’ve never seen somebody slam so hard just from walking. He got up and was so angry that he grabbed his phone, just got in the taxi and left. 

 

J - Current day, what’s gong on with Dale Starkie? Still a grom at heart?

D - That will never change. I still love Bam Margera, skating the skatepark, doing acid drops and jumping off roofs etc. Basically I like doing simple tricks but with high impact and that seems to impress people. Haha! It’s like when you watch a Joe Gavin part. He makes all the simple stuff look so sick. People seem to have a similar reaction if I drop in off a roof.

 

J - Wait…how drunk are you? Are you comparing yourself to Joe Gavin? Haha!

(Laughter)

D - No, I could never compare myself to him. What I’m saying is it seems like people are hyped to see me jump off a roof. All I need to do is take the impact. There is nothing technically good about that. 

 

J - I guess it’s a niche but you don’t actually skate off many roofs. You’re not Jaws. Myles and I are trying to re-brand you as the UK Bobby Worrest. Haha! I think this new part we are working on is more well rounded.

D - Yeah it probably is but I still love that feeling of rolling away from some high impact. 

 

BS 360

 

J - It’s a strange time for skateboarding. Everything moves so quickly because of social media.

D - I’m not really that active on social media myself. I post the odd Hyde Park clip here and there on Instagram, however I prefer to film at the weekends and evenings for a real project. I’m sure every skateboarder around the country is doing that really. Working on the next project and trying to make it better than their last thing.

 

J - What’s your view on the UK scene at the moment? As you said, people everywhere must be working on their own videos, but it does feels more and more like if you want to make a significant impact then you need to be in London. Have you ever considered moving there?

 

D - I don’t think so no. I’m happy doing my own thing up north. London has always been the hotspot hasn’t it, but there are good reasons for that. There are way more spots and a lot more skateboarders.

 

J - Definitely. We both love going down there and seeing all the boys.

D - Yeah I love the London scene. Conor Charleson, Will Creswick, Will Miles and co. They're all smashing it and doing their thing down there. I do wish some skaters from others areas got some more shine though. There are some amazing skaters around the UK that get slept on but maybe that’s because when their footage comes out people can’t relate to their spots. It’s completely different with London footage because a lot of the spots are way more relatable. If a London edit comes out then it does seem like people are way more hyped on it. 

 

J - How was the process of shooting on film for this interview with Graham?

D - It has been interesting! I’m normally out with Reece Leung who mainly shoots digital where I can instantly see the photo. With Graham shooting on film, even though you can’t initially see the photo, I know he’s gotten the right shot and it’ll be a nice surprise to see them all together in the mag. If there is something that I have learned from shooting on film, it’s that if you can’t land shit first try like Korahn then you’re going to waste film and that stuff is expensive. I probably used up way more film than I should have and I apologise for that but I really enjoyed shooting film with Graham.    

 

J - Talk us through a couple of the photos you shot for this interview. How did you come across the bank spot that you kickflipped into?

That bank is in the middle of nowhere and I’d never been to it before so it was a bit of a gamble. My friend George Worthington skated it first and as it looked so cool I instantly wanted to go there. We didn’t have a pin for the spot, just a screenshot of a reservoir near Harrogate with the bank circled. We had to walk for quite a while down some dirt roads and through a massive field but we found it. The spot is pretty unique as you can only skate it at certain times of the year due to landing being directly in the river that leads to the reservoir. It’s usually filled with flowing water but sometimes you can get a dry area which becomes a perfect landing strip at the bottom of the bank. At the top of the bank there is only about 3ft of run up and it is a 13ft drop on the other side which means you’re stood right on the edge before each attempt. If you don’t commit to your trick then your board shoots down into muddy water, which is what happened to me multiple times before I could actually stick it. 

 

J - You've eyed up that ollie from the roof into the bank for quite a while. We all thought you’d smashed your teeth in on one of the bails!

Yeah that was a scary one. Every time I’ve been to that spot I’ve looked off the roof into the bank but I wasn’t ever sure if it was possible or not. The bank is so steep and short and also has a curb at the bottom of it. The run up at the top isn’t great either to be honest. The first attempt I ended up jumping off my board and tried running down the bank, but as it’s so steep I just ended up slamming straight to flat. After that try I realised it was going to be a land or slam situation but I usually like feeling out a trick before actually committing to it, that wasn’t happening at this spot. Second try I landed into the bank but my board shot away from me before I knew what had happened. The next attempt the same thing happened but I smashed my face on the floor. It was one of those slams where everyone goes quiet. After a slam like that it’s hard to build up the courage to try it again, however after a multiple run ups, a couple of punches to the face and a few screams I was rolling away. Normally when you land something it feels sick but I was so scared with this one that I just totally blanked. I think that it’s one of those spots that you need to go to in person to appreciate but that’s pretty common in skateboarding. Haha!

 

Ollie from roof into the bank

 

J - You’ve recently started being flowed New Balance. How did that happen?

D - I got on my knees and begged Baines. Haha! After Etnies, I was buying shoes that I knew I liked but as I was out skating with Baines quite a lot, there was a bit of an ongoing joke about putting me on. I just kept asking him and he eventually caved. I’m really grateful to him and I love the shoes, especially the 440. I skate the Tom Knox 440 all of the time and have bought multiple pairs myself as I just wanted as many as I could get. I love that shoe so much.

 

J - We’ve been working on something new together for a while. Do you have anything else on the go?

D - Not really. I’m basically just filming with you for this video. We aren’t really sure what it is yet, but I want to work hard on it and do the best shit I can. Social media has changed everything and even if you work really hard and you’re proud of your part, it still might just get forgotten the next week. I still want to do the best I can though. 

 

J - Any parting words?

D - I would like to thank Graham for coming down to Leeds and spending the time with me shooting this interview, Mark Baines for sorting it all out as well as driving everywhere and hooking me up with shoes and you for being a great friend and manager. A huge thanks to Welcome, Matt at Dwindle, Tom at Form, my family and all my friends who have helped me in skateboarding. 

 

J - Finally, what’s next?

D - Whatever the fuck I want.