Interview by Oliver Nermerich
Photography by XYZ
You were once the poster boy for Roces and Cozmo, traveling all over the world and competing against the best skaters in the world. And then you seemed to just disappear. What happened?
Well it‘s a long story but I‘ll try to answer the question as straight forward as possible: something happened with Roces and it was part my fault and part Roces team management. After I won the ’97 vert X-Games in San Diego I kind of lost interest in skating a little because I had achieved my one goal in skating: to win a world titles equivalent. The following year I was never sent back to defend my X-Games title. I think this was to do with either bad team management or some conflict I may have had with the team manager at the time.
For whatever the reason, I was not sent back to the states the next year and after that I kind of lost motivation. For me, skating wasn‘t about fame and fortune, skating for me was purely to find and discover myself on a personal level. In a nutshell, after I had won the X-Games, I felt I had reached my pinnacle and had nothing else to prove to myself or anyone else for that matter. My skating became sloppy, I started being less concerned about winning and more concerned about catching up with touring buddies and partying it up.
This essentially was the beginning of the end for me. My last international competition was in LA at a fair. This was the competition where I did the disaster 360° top-soul over the box in best of VG, I think. At the end of that year in ’99, I was sent an email by Roces Italy to be informed that after 5 years of representing the company I was no longer needed.
This was shattering and a relief at the same time. Shattering because I wasn‘t given the respect of a phone call dismissal and relieving because now I could focus on a grounding life back here in Australia. I got a real job, got married and bought a house. Now I‘m divorced.
I remember watching you in the old Krangk- and Video Groove films. For the younger kids that don‘t know, could you please tell us a little about your rolling career to date? Competition results etc.?
I started rolling in 1992 with a mate in a small town just out of Melbourne, Australia. We had no idea of „extreme“ inline skating and we used to just ride up and down the street and occasionally go to a school to jump a few bins. A year later, in 1993, we heard of a competition called the Australian Titles and we decided to go and check it out.
This was the first time I ever saw a ramp. They had a mini ramp and a vert ramp there and my main focus was on the mini ramp. This was the first time I saw Tom Fry and Scott Bentley riding vert. I was encouraged to enter the mini ramp comp and so I did. I didn‘t know how to drop into the ramp but I entered anyway, I came dead last!
The following year, 1994, I entered the Australian Titles again in the under 16 division on the vert ramp and came in first. The year after that, 1995, I came 1st in street and 2nd in vert in the open devisions of the „Australian Titles“ and that won me a ticket to the states to compete at the first ever X-Games.
Things happened so fast, I was on a roll and felt almost unstoppable. For me to remember all my competition results, I would need some kind of past regression hypnosis. I really can‘t remember exactlybut off the top of my head: ’95, ’97, ’99 Australian Titles, 1st vert and 2nd street at the ’97 Extreme Games in San Diego, numerous competitions in Europe and the states.
My first ever competition in the sates was an ASA stop in NYC. Ryan Jacklone got me stoned in a NY alley way and I won the street comp ripped out of my mind. Thanks, Ryan… Your plot to have me stumble on the street course failed!
I spent most of my 5 years touring doing demos in Europe, trade fairs and many Vans Warped Tour demos. I‘ve had a feature in DailyBread magazine and a few Euro mags. And also had my own feature in Videogroove video mag. My favorite time overseas would have to have been the Lausanne comps and some of the USA Warped Tours. Touring with people like Eminem, Ice-T, Pennywise, No Doubt.
What are you up to these days?
These days I‘m mostly working full-time and producing electronic music under the alias „aerobiotic“. I have a number of tracks signed to labels as far as Greece. I‘ve recently enrolled and will studying for my Bachelor of criminology and criminal justice (forensic psychology). After 15 years in a relationship and 10 years of marriage, I recently split up with my wife. I have a lovely daughter and I juggle my personal time producing, spending time with my daughter and catching up with mates. And procrastinating.
You have been skating for a long time – the better part of two decades in fact. Can you explain how you have seen the sport and culture evolve?
I don‘t think it‘s changed much. There is a lot more emphasis these days on the cultural side of skating than there is on the actual skating, I think… That‘s just my opinion, and I could be wrong and it might just be because I‘m slightly out of the loop. I think the way that the sport will continue to grow is by the way of creativity.
I‘ve also recently noticed the massive increase in scooter use and I‘ve discovered that there is some attitude from rollers towards scooter kids that is actually no different from the attitude we got from skateboarders back in the day. I don‘t agree with it and personally… Any real rollerblader should concentrate on there skating and not bagging scooter kids.
I‘ve seen the sport at it‘s peak when pro skaters were being paid extremely well, to some of the best in the world being dropped because companies can‘t afford to keep them financially. It‘s a shamebut the whole process is cyclic and there will be another time where the sport hits another peak and is in the spotlight again. As has happened to skateboarding.
For myself, I feel like there was less tension with rollers back in the day as there is today. There was a lot more focus on simply just having fun, were as today, I think there is too much focus on worrying what everyone else thinks about ones skating.
Have you noticed any negative elements that have arisen through the sport‘s development?
Yeah, as stated above. People just need to concentrate on skating and not the image and what friends think of whatever style of skating they might do.
What would you like to see happen in the future?
I‘d just like to know that there are still people out there rolling and having fun doing it. I‘d like to see more skaters thinking outside of the square and doing weird shit.
I think the sport is lacking a little creativity. I‘m not interested much in thinking about where the sport is heading because I know it will naturally take it‘s course. If anything, it‘s just important that people enjoy having a roll with their mates. If people can do that, then the sport will go places.
Is it true you were working on a skate with Cozmo?
Haha no, that is not true at all! I had a wheel with them, and saw not one cent. That happens in the industry. The only money I received from a sponsor was from Roces Italy.
I was once approached in Lausanne, Switzerland by, I think, Jon Julio, to have a meeting about being a part of a new skate idea called UpsideDown. I refused to attend the meeting that night in Lausanne because I wasn‘t interested in the business side of skating. The company is now USD.
That‘s the only chance I had to be directly involved with skates on that level.
So what‘s the status of Cozmo? Is there any chance that Cozmo Wheels will make a comeback? What happened to the company and its owner?
Some people still have some unused sets of Cozmos and they wouldn‘t sell it for a thousand dollars. I doubt Cozmo will return. If the sport peaked again like it did in ’94 – 2000 and there was profit to be made, then maybe they will. Tim Dawe was the owner of Cozmo Wheels. I believe he has gotten married and has settled down now.
I don‘t think he runs a factory anymorebut he‘s been making skateboard wheels for a much longer time than inline. I think he still makes skateboard wheels. So I guess if he is, then he still has a factory and there could be a possibility he might again make some killer wheels for the rollerblading world.
Do you still have some Cozmo wheels?
Yeah, I still have a set of brand-new original Tim Ward Pro Cozmo wheels… I might frame them, I‘ll never sell them. I‘m sure I can buy wheels off Tim Dawe that he has left over in stock. I spoke with him about this a while back. So if anyone wants some Cozmo wheels hit me up! It‘ll cost you though.
Do you want to stay involved with the industry in the future? What would be your role?
Not really, I‘d rather just run http://www.emesce.com on the side and stay a spectator/part time roller with mates in the scene.
If you have the time and chance to do another rolling tour again – who would you pick to be part of the tour team?
Haffey sounds real cool. I‘d hand pick a select few veterans for the tour that can still function physically. Tom Fry obviously, as he was my biggest inspiration. Arlo, Chris Edwards, Jimmy Trimble, Dave Ortega, Ryan Jacklone, Tom Ahlqvist, Matt Andrews, Ani, Matteo Attanasio, Jon Bergeron, Sven Boekhorst, Robby Pitts, Gavin Drumm, Jon Julio, Andy Kruse, Dustin Latimer, Oliver Lee, Matty Mantz, Dave Paine, Josh Petty, Chris Pullar, Eric Schrijn, Jochen Smuda, Randy Spizer, John Starr, Cj Wellsmore…. So as you can see, it would be a fairly massive tour!
We would live-update from that tour for sure, that sounds like fun! Let‘s contact them all and make this happen! Thanks for your time, Tim. It was a pleasure. Any shout-outs?
Shout-outs to the companies still kicking it and keeping the sport on it‘s toes. Shout outs to guys like Jon Julio and Jochen Smuda for their hard work and contribution to the health of the sport. Cheers guys.