To celebrate Nike SB's NESW project – a series of videos and a book about the UK skate scene – we catch up with Welsh transplant Chris Jones.

To celebrate Nike SB's NESW project – a series of videos and a book about the UK skate scene – we catch up with Welsh transplant Chris Jones.

People might not associate Wales with skateboarding but the green country of sheep and rissoles has had a healthy scene ever since the surfers of Langland broke down beach huts to make boards.

Even so, if you grew up in a small, church-and-steeple village off the M4 like Isle and Nike SB skater Chris Jones, there can’t have been a whole lot in the way of skateboarding inspiration (more about that in this little Super 8 short made for Dazed by Nick Jensen).

So it should come as no surprise that Chris Jones’ part in the latest West installment of the NESW series, is one of the most fun and unpredictable of the series; hippy jumps, hill bombs and a teeth-chattering firecracker.

We caught up with Chris to chat about building your own spots, being on a mad one and leaving the motherland behind.

How did you get into skating growing up?
I’m from a small village called Coychurch, near Bridgend. About a half hour drive from Cardiff. In Bridgend there are loads of skaters but in my village there wasn’t really anyone. There was one guy who used to skate around the village and I saw him and got interested in it. Then one of my friends got a skateboard and I just used to go to his house and use his. And then on my eleventh birthday my mum got me a board.

What was your first skateboard?
It was some crappy board called Hud – these really cheap set-ups from Sports Direct. I think everyone’s first skateboards are quite terrible actually. You don’t really have a clue so you buy something cheap. The first time I used mine I tried going down a hill and it had these plastic trucks that didn’t turn so I flew into a lamppost and pretty much died. I just got used to falling over quite a lot from an early age. I think I had that skateboard for maybe three months and then this guy on my street was throwing away a full Blueprint set-up, so he gave it to me.

Where was your favourite spot?
There was an indoor, wooden skatepark in the bowls hall of the Bridgend Recreation Centre, which only ever opened in the summer. And in the winter months there was a car park directly under it and they’d take the grind box and some of the ramps and put them down there and open it in the evenings for people to go and skate. I did that quite a lot around 2002. That was quite fun. There was also a big industrial estate next to my village and we used to go in there a lot and build things in warehouses, like ramps and grind boxes and stuff.

Do you think building your own spots has given you a particular style?
I guess in my village where there isn’t really a lot to skate you’ve got to make do with what you have and try and be a little more creative with the spots, rather than say if you grew up in a place where there were loads of amazing spots. We had to build things and try and approach things in a different way. The types of spots we would skate would usually be quite different – like some weird crusty, concrete bank in a small, rural village.

Skate video that changed your life?
There were loads of videos that were influential when I was growing up but I guess, like for most people of my generation, the Blueprint videos were quite a big thing – Lost and Found and stuff. The Blueprint videos had spots in Wales and London and places I’d been to. So I could understand the difficulty of the trick and appreciate how they’d do something at a spot that I knew. But I liked some American stuff too. The Habitat video Mosaic was a really big one for me. And Static II and Static III by Josh Stewart, I enjoyed watching those. And then some of the videos with higher production like the Girl video Yeah Right, that was quite enjoyable.

Any characters that stood out back then?
Yeah just my friends I guess. I used to skate with Dylan Hughes who rides for DC and my friend Craddog and this other guy Jeff. They were all amazing at skating and they’d push you to skate at such a high standard because you were constantly trying to keep up. And the older guys, someone like Chris Gibbons, they’d always be doing incredible stuff, so it always had an impact.

Favourite skate shop?
Lost Art. I’ve been friends with Mackey for ages and he’s always been so supportive and he’s like the nicest guy in the world. It’s a skater-owned skate shop and he knows what he’s doing. It’s got a good direction and it’s always good to visit.

First pair of Nike SBs? And favourites?
My first pair was dunks and my favourites would be the team editions.

You live in London now – how would you describe skateboarding here?
I’ve been here for about two years now. There’s just way more to skate. And there’s so much going on it’s hard to get bored. It’s one of the best cities I’ve ever skated. People have always paid attention to London. I think footage from here translates really well, it looks good, so people are into it. But as far as what’s going on now, we’ve been filming for the Isle video and I feel like Nike have been doing a lot more projects based in London recently. They opened that Bay Sixty6 park and held quite a lot of events there. I feel like it’s a good time to be here.

Where do you like to skate now?
I live in Peckham so I tend to just go up to Brixton to skate at Stockwell. Or there’s some nice stairs and flatground outside this cinema in Brixton called The Ritzy, which is fun to skate. And then in the winter, if it’s raining. We go to BaySixty6 to skate. Because there’s not really that many sheltered spots and parks in London. You’re quite limited when it rains.

Best trips you’ve been on recently?
The last four months I’ve been on a lot of trips. I went to Palestine with a charity SkatePal, to help build a skatepark. And then I went to Detroit with Isle and went to New York to film with my friend Colin Reed who did a film TENGU: God of Mischief. I just got back from Tokyo with Colin too.

Most likely thing to hear on a trip?
I don’t know! It varies so much on each trip. You always end up just repeating some stupid phrases that don’t really make any sense. The last trip when I was in Tokyo my friend just kept on shouting, ‘On a mad one!’ Because he was American and he asked me what people from Wales say when they’re going out on a heavy night drinking, haha. So he shouted ‘On a mad one!’ the whole time. Answering this question looks stupid because it is stupid, haha. It’s only really relative to that trip and that moment and then you bring it home with you and start saying it in front of your other friends they’re like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ Like, ‘Going ham.’ Haha.

Best thing about being a British skateboarder?
Because it’s a smaller place compared to the States the industry, or the scene, is smaller. Most people know everyone, which is quite nice. I guess now with the internet, you can put yourself out there to world so the separation of places doesn’t really matter anymore. But people have always paid attention to the UK and there’s a lot of opportunity here.

See more from the Nike SB NESW project here and watch out for the exclusive book, which drops Friday December 12.