photos Geoff Clifford interview by Lucas Wisenthal and Andy Pierce
Andrew McGraw says I don’t know him well enough to write this intro. Even though I see him regularly and we’ve hung out in various capacities – skateboarding, drinking, eating junk food and talking shit – apparently we’re not, like, bros or anything. What I can tell you is that he skates a lot. The first time I tried to do this interview, he showed up with some other dudes and they ditched me to go to a spot. He was wearing a t-shirt with a few rappers’ names on it – Sean Price, Masta Ace, and a couple more. ‘90s shit, for sure. Basically, McGraw’s a grown-up skate rat who lives in Montreal and hasn’t strayed from what he’s always liked. -Lucas Wisenthal
How did you get into skating?
Some dude rolled by my house – some real scumbag with a Powell-Peralta board or something – and I bothered my Dad to buy a used board from him. The guy sold me a Rob Roskopp board. It had rails on the bottom, and I bombed hills for a few years. Then got a new school board – a Black Label.
Where was this?
Who did you start skating with?
I skated with a few dudes from Junior High, and then they stopped so I skated with the older dudes in Saint John. My brother started skating; I’d skate with him and all my close friends. Tim Breen is from my city, and he’s pretty sick, so I used to skate with him all the time.
What was it like to grow up skating in Saint John?
It’s a pretty decent sized city, but it’s super east coast – raw shit. If you can skate there, you can skate pretty much skate anywhere. Half the city’s brick, and it’s pretty raw. The sick spot there is the EMB of New Brunswick called The Circle; ledges, a three-up/three-down, and no kick-outs. It was super sick to skate there all day. I skated there for 10 years.
What year did you actually start?
I’d say, like, ’89 or ’90, maybe. I think it’s been, like, 18 or 19 years of me skating.
But unlike the rest of us, you’re not trapped in the past. Why do you think that is?
I just like to give new kids a chance. I don’t like a lot of the rail kids that come up and they can just skate rails. I like new kids that come up and can skate everything.
Who do you skate with?
Pretty much anybody, man. Studio guys, kids from Underworld. Whoever’s around the city and is pretty mellow, I’ll skate with them. I’m not going to vibe anybody.
Do you come from a family of musicians?
No, but my Dad was super into music when I was growing up, and he kind of got me into funk and some old rock. I like blues music and jazz…I played the drums growing up. I think I started at the same time I started skating. I had two sets; the first set was stolen and the second set I couldn’t afford, so I had to sell it. I just skated and forgot about drums, but I still play them once in a while.
What role does Gucci Mane play in your life?
Gucci Mane is a popular item at Temple, man. When you’re really drunk, it’s kind of fun. It’s kind of good to throw on some Gucci [myspace.com/guccimane], but I’m more down for Max B [myspace.com/maxbiggaveli] if I’m going to be that drunk and listen to some stupid music.
Explain what The Clubhouse is.
The Clubhouse a collection of winter-time washes with nothing better to do than just being locked in the house playing Tiger Woods every night. That, or some NHL ’09 – there might be some betting going down on that. It’s pretty much a clubhouse. I’m sure there’s one of those in every city, but it’s only the Temple dudes that go to this one. There’s limited seating.
I know you’ve spent time skating in the States. What’s your connection to Boston?
My Mom grew up there, and then she came to Canada. She moved back there when my parents divorced, and I moved with her. I lived in Boston for a pretty decent part of my life, but I was born in Canada. It wasn’t like I was a US citizen, but people would just associate me with Boston because I was in a few videos [McGraw appeared in Zoo York’s E.S.T., among other vids]. It’s kind of like a second home to me.
How does skating in Boston compare to skating in Canada?
Back in the day when you went to Boston, to me the kids were next-level. They could do all the switch shit. You’d meet some Pros. We didn’t really have that on the east coast of Canada. I think Montreal is up to par now with other places. There’s not as many good kids, but there’s a few good ones that by any means could go anywhere and fit in.
You were on Robbie Gangemi’s company, Vehicle for a little bit. How did that happen?
I just came back from California and he asked me to ride for him. I don’t know if I could’ve really said no to that dude because he might have snuffed me or something. He’s pretty G. He asks you if you want to ride for his company, and you pretty much have to say yes. He didn’t really have the greatest funding for it, but it was a sick company. He did hook it up – took us on tour and shit.
Was getting on Studio a similar proposition? Were you afraid that Darrell Smith might snuff you out if you said no?
Not really. I was kind of just over the whole distribution thing. It just seems like, if you’re going to ride for a distributor then why not ride for a Canadian board company?
Tell us about your nickname, “Smoke-Bomb Senior”.
When you’re in a shitty club with all the Temple crew or whoever’s out that night – because there’s always something going on in Montreal – and it’s just the wackest party, you smoke-bomb. You don’t tell anybody you’re leaving, and you might drop a few texts to one of your close friends after you leave, where you’re like, “Alright, peace.” They didn’t see you leave or anything; you just miraculously smoke-bombed out of there.
Aside from skating, do you have a job?
I’ve got my own little business painting houses. I’ve got all the painting equipment, so I just do contracts for people. I don’t work for anybody except myself. My Dad taught me to paint when I was younger. I do make a little bit of money from skating, but I definitely make way more painting – I can make $200 or $300 in a day. It’s pretty good, and it’s something that I don’t mind doing. I just throw on the iPod and paint all day. But I’m never going to work to the point where I can’t skate.
Who do you want to shout out?
Shout out to Temple Skate Supply, Studio, Adidas, WeSC, RAW in Boston, and Concrete. Thanks to my family, and to everyone who’s helped me out in my life. Peace.
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