Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DEATHBOX – A STORY OF POVERTY AND VICTORY!



Saturday and Sunday, Galery V!PS will host a Deathbox Exhibition, here's the story behind it. Click here for the flyer.

With less than £2000, Deathbox started out in England back in 1987. To be accurate, February 27th 1987. The UK had a miserly youth business start-up program in those days, known as the “Enterprise Allowance Scheme,” and that is how the Deathbox legacy began. The £40 a week for two years that the government scheme provided was supposed to get Britain’s youth off the Dole by encouraging them to start up their own businesses.

Jeremy Fox, Duncan “Wurzel” Houlton and Graham “Mac” McEachran had got together in an East End of London pub, and made loose plans to form what would eventually become the most notorious company and winning team ever, outside the American skateboard industry.

The first Deathbox decks were smuggled in through a friend’s family who lived on an American Airbase near Oxford. No freight charges, no import duty and no VAT! The problem was that the first precious shipment of Wurzel decks got lost on some military airplane and did not show up until 6 months later. In the meantime, money had to be made and it needed to come out of thin air.

Jeremy Fox learned very quickly how to make skateboard helmets, and copied an old fibreglass Flyaway design from the late 70’s (on a hunch that it might make a comeback). Working out of a single car garage in the Buckinghamshire countryside, the early days of Deathbox started to roll along.

Decks were shipped in from the USA and screen-printed by hand, slide rails were cut from solid plastic sheet and stickers were screened using aerosol glue to hold them to the work bench! Gradually, the original Deathbox team started to come together. Mac joined as the artist and also as the second Pro rider. His artwork was often controversial and his bank and freestyle skating were an underground legend.

Mark Van Der Eng was the next to join the team, from Uitgeest in Holland. He made a solo trip to Warrington to meet up with Jeremy, and made the decision to join the Deathbox team very soon after. Then the others riders began to emerge: Alex Moul, Pete Dossett, Paul “Rocker” Robson, Rune Glifberg, Davy Van Laere, Nordien Quatbi, Jocke Olsson, Bruno Rouland, Andy Scott. And then finally, Sean Goff joined later on, and cemented the team as the most dominating force in European skateboarding history.
The team trips over to mainland Europe were as frequent as the company bank balance would allow. Without a care in the world about the business of making money, the team literally wreaked havoc across Britain and Europe; more often than not driving together in the trusty Ford Transit Van (F616 AVV).

Now based in a small (and decrepit industrial complex in Wellingborough, a shitty little town near Northampton), the company soldiered on through endless dramas and laughable business, with the only real focus to fund the team and manufacture Deathbox products to sell in order to keep the ball rolling.

Friendships were made that would last a lifetime, and a family of sorts was formed that would endure for the next twenty years in various different incarnations.
Skateboarding collapsed in 1990 and the toughest years for Deathbox were from then until 1994. Radlands opened up in Northampton and became a second home to the Deathbox team and Jeremy over these last years. The company camel’s back finally broke and the then current team as well as Jeremy Fox and long time helper/troublemaker Ian Deacon, all jumped on a plane and flew to America to see if they could cut it in the world capital of skateboarding: California.

The brand was re-named Flip, but the spirit remained the same. Now it is officially 20 years since the original Deathbox Skateboards began, and it seems appropriate to get the crew back together in Holland, together with the help of longtime Deathbox supporter and friend, Nico Van Der Wel.

This reunion is dedicated to the memory of Matt McMullan. A long-standing member of the Deathbox team, who tragically passed away in January 2006.
Deathbox will never die and we hope that the memories and the inspirations from the team, and the company, hold a special place in the hearts of “grown up” skateboarders around the world.

Riders, riders, riders...

The list and names are getting bigger and bigger. Now confirmed:

Tom Penny, Mark Appleyard, Axel Cruysberg, Willow Helder Lima, J├╝rgen Horrwarth