Kingpin Magazine

The Tom Knox Interview

People always make fun of the little groms; they push funny, their shoes look too big and they always ask silly questions. But these groms always grow up and often they grow into our favourite skaters of the day (Think Austyn Gillete, Mark Suciu and Dylan Reider). Voted Europe’s Rookie of the Year in 2012, having last part in 2013’s European video of the year (11th Hour) and £2500 richer due to his recent win at London Am, I can safely say Tom Knox’s grom days are long behind him now and he’s been reaping the benefits of all that time on the board. Here is a full interview shot in London from the former grom who has now turned into our favourite skater…Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you: Mr Tom Knox.

Tom Knox Interviewed by Will Harmon, Jacob Harris and Guy Jones - From Kingpin Issue 128

Will: You recently moved away from your parent’s house and into a skate house. How has this transition been for you?

Tom: It’s been good. I’ve lived with my parents my whole life, I’ve shared a room with siblings my whole life and then finally I just scooped up enough money to commit to moving away. Jake (Harris), Arthur (Derrien) and T-Bone all lived in the same house before in Camberwell and they were down for me to live with them. So they kindly moved out and we all moved into a bigger place together in Peckham.

Jacob: Do you find you have to spread yourself pretty thin because obviously for you family is a big part of your life?  

I still spend so much time with my family in comparison to people when they normally move out. I still go back to my family house once a week at least. We are lucky because we have the London Overground and I can get back home pretty quickly from Peckham.

Guy: Has it reduced your amount of family activities moving away from your parent’s? 

No I guess it makes me try and do more as it means I have to commit to them instead of just being there at my house already. Now I have to plan it so it’s been good.

Will: Can you tell us a bit about your family and how you grew up?

Well I’m from a family of seven and there were four boys real tight together at the top. I think in that situation you become active as you are always copying what your brothers do. You want to compete with them as a kid. So when my older brother was playing football, we played football. When he started skateboarding, we started skating and so on. I know other people from bigger families and it always seems to be that way. It keeps you quite active as you have people to play with all the time.

Will: You’ve lived in London your whole life, would you ever consider moving somewhere else?

I’ve considered moving to Berlin before, but it didn’t work out. If I moved away it would have to be out of England. I couldn’t move out of London and move somewhere else in England now. I think at one point in my life I would like to move out of England.

Jacob: Do you get the feeling ever that your skateboarding needs London? 

I guess now it does as I’ve skated here all my life. I’ve become used to the kind of spots here.

Jacob: What particular impact do you think it has had on your skateboarding? 

There are so many spots here that you look out for certain types of spots and certain kinds of lines you can do. And then when you go somewhere else you can think of something, but it doesn’t come across as good. When you end up seeing the footage it doesn’t have the same kind of impact as when you do it in London. So I guess I do need London, but I guess that’s because I’ve skated here all my life and it’s embedded in me.

Jacob: You’re actually one of the few skateboarders in London that grew up in London. Do you feel as if you have this sort of status, do you feel as if you’ve always been a part of the scene, on the inside?

I definitely wouldn’t say that. There are people that have been around way longer than me that aren’t from London and I had my own crew from my area where I grew up. Although it was really close to central London, two stops away, we always had our own little thing going on. Whereas people from further out would make an effort to travel into central and meet people there. So as a kid it was almost as if we weren’t a part of the London scene even though we were in central. I do forget though how there are only a few skaters in London who are actually from here.

Will: You’ve been filming with Jacob Harris since you were a teenager. He’s filmed all your major video parts. Is it strange when you go filming with someone else?

It’s not strange; it’s just different. It’s a completely different vibe. When I film with Jake, we just go to a spot we’ll just warm up together and skate the spot together. We really figure out something then do it. I’ve been filming for so long with Jake we both seem to have the same rhythm of skating and filming. When I film with someone else, I still enjoy it, but I understand that they are just filming me. With Jake I forget that he films me, if that makes sense.

Will: Jake how does it make you feel when Tom films with other filmers? 
Jacob: There’s definitely a degree of jealousy. (Everyone laughs) It’s like a got a set of keys to a really good car and somebody else is driving around in it. I guess it’s like that feeling if your parents are giving attention to some other kid and they make you share your toys – you kind of resent them a bit. But I’ve learned to get over it. 
Will: Speaking of filming, how is the Isle video coming along Tom? Are you going to have a full part?

Yeah I’ve been trying to get a full part together; it’s nearly done now. It’s been a really good transition from getting the company together and getting everyone hyped and then doing a video together. The company feels really united now.

Will: What do you watch to get hyped before you go skate?

It’s weird these days I end up going back to watch things that got me hyped when I was a kid. There are a few new things I watch here and there, but mostly I watch (Blueprint’s) Lost & Found, (Landscape’s) Portraits and recently I’ve been watching Rowan Zorilla in Shep Dawgs. That just gets me hyped to go skate. Sometimes the actual skateboarding doesn’t get me hyped it’s just the nostalgia of remembering what I used to want to do. With the Internet and stuff, I just don’t watch things more than once these days so I go back to what I used to watch all the time.

Will: You recently won the Nike SB London Am comp at BaySixy6, but you don’t strike me as a comp guy. What made you enter and will you enter more comps again in the future? 

Well the story behind that is that we had the Adidas Skate Copa event the week before that and I went with the Lost Art boys and it was quite a lot of fun. And then I think it was two days before the BaySixty6 comp I just hit up Colin (Kennedy) and said: ‘Can you put my name down?’ I wasn’t even really going to go, but all my friends were working except Casper (Brooker) who was gonna be there so I just decoded to go. And I actually said to Jake: ‘I’m gonna do this one and I’m really actually going to try this time and if it doesn’t work out, well then I’ll know I’m not that kind of skater.’ And so I went there and really just tried to do as many tricks as I could and it went well. It’s funny how you work so hard for years on video parts and then you win one contest and suddenly everyone pays you more attention.

Will: Can you tell us why you made the switch from Emerica Europe to the newer skate show brand New Balance Numeric? 

The way Emerica was going we weren’t really going on many trips and a few things happened and I was kind of bummed. And then basically (Dave) Mackey was telling me that Seb (Palmer) was looking for a rider to put on in Europe. And I had never really considered leaving Emerica at this point at all. So when that happened it kind of dwelled in my mind and I just thought about it. Finally I met Seb and I talked to him a little bit and then I just decided to go for it.

Will: And then you went on a trip with New Balance to New York. Was this your first time skating in America? How was it? 

I had been to America as a kid, but not really skating at that age. New York was good; I really enjoyed it. I was quite nervous though before I went. I knew this was the deal before I got on that New Balance is based in America and I’d have to travel there a lot. But I kind of really wanted to do that anyways. So straight away Seb wanted me to come out to LA to meet the team, but this New York trip happened so it worked out perfect. So I was really stoked because I’ve never skated LA but I’ve heard that it’s kind of tough and New York is more of a London vibe. So straight away I was stoked to go to NYC and not have to deal with driving around all the time and we could just get on the subway and skate to spots. I think it was a really good way to meet the team. It was mellow.

Guy: Have you got any more trips lined up with New Balance?

I’m going to go out to LA to film something else with Russell Houghten. I’m going to go out there for a few weeks and just hang out with the team and try and film more there.

Will: Sick. Excited about LA?

Yeah, I am. I haven’t been to LA since I was 12. I’m 23 now, so I can experience it properly.

Jacob: You’re going to meet up with your younger brother out in LA right? What does he do?

My little brother is snowboarding out in America at the moment and he’s going to try to be in LA at the same time as me.

Will: Isn’t he a pro snowboarder?

Yeah pretty much, he’s not pro but he gets paid to go on trips. He’s out with Vans in Portland and I think he’s going to be out in LA at the same time as me so I’ll try and get him out skating.

Will: Didn’t you used to snowboard? Didn’t you use to get free Vans boots or something?

I used to get free Vans boots because I was on Vans skate and they used to give me boots. Also I was on Shiner for Baker skateboards and so they’d give me Santa Cruz snowboards.

Will: Who was your first sponsor?

Vans I think. I was on Vans since I was a kid. I knew a guy called Ed Leigh; I knew his wife and he knew the guy who was team manager of Vans and he wanted somebody for that TV show RAD, and so it was my little brother and I. I couldn’t really skate very well at all but I think because of the situation I was in they were like ‘ah yeah let’s get these guys on.’ I wasn’t at a level where I should have been sponsored; I got really lucky with that.

Guy: What was it like? It must have been a strange experience going on a TV show with that Christian guy from an early age. It must have been quite peculiar?

It was peculiar, but man it was so fun. I know people talk shit on that stuff but…


Will: Wait so what was it… It was a TV show?

It was a TV show where they took kids, who were usually on Vans, to other countries to skate. Lucien (Clarke) was on it; Ross (McGouran) was on it, (Ben) Raemers… I know, I definitely heard people talking shit on it, but I got to go to Australia – I was 15, 14 years old and me and my little brother got to go all around Australia and travel around in a campervan.

Will: Tell us about your newest clothing sponsor

I’m hardly on them right now, but Vaughan hit me up the other week to ask me if I wanted to be on Kr3w. I know they have a solid European thing going on with Oscar and Chewy and… Tom Penny (hah) so I’m going to get involved with that, hopefully get to go on some trips and be a part of an actual team. In terms of a clothing brand, I’ve never really had that.

Jacob: As somebody who has never consciously decided to dress in a certain style, or somebody who never actually looks in the mirror really, how do you find the current state of hyper-stylised, trendy skateboarding?

I guess it’s a funny one. I’ve always dressed the same, I’ve never really switched it up too much; I know what I feel comfortable in, though once every while I’ll see something and be like ‘ah that looks sick, maybe I’ll feel good in that’, but apart from that I never really fuck with it.

The current state is a bit kind of worrying. It worries me slightly. Some of it’s sick because it gives somebody a platform, like Darius to just go off and do his own thing and look maybe a bit insane but do his own thing and I enjoy that.

Will: I think you’re too busy skating and thinking about cool spots to worry about what the cool clothes are…

Although actually I do look like I wear Dickies right now, but just because I haven’t had a clothing sponsor in a while until Kr3w now, I found these golfing trousers in Sports Direct, two pairs for £16 and it feels like I’m wearing silk.

I guess I’ve always worn my older brothers clothes, always wore their jeans. My jeans always went below my shoes and in school it was that – I mean most people probably experienced this – where if you have jack-ups you’re a dickhead. If your trousers go above your shoes and can see your socks you were a dickhead. So if I see that there’s still this moral inside my head that for some reason just says ‘you’re a dickhead’.

I actually remember seeing Jensen in Lost & Found doing a line with a nosegrind nollie flip at Baker Street benches and his trousers get caught in his sock, and I remember as a kid thinking ‘ah, jack-ups, dickhead!’ Just because it was a thing in my school, you had to wear trousers that fit.

Will: Now that you’re getting on Kr3w though do you think you’re going to dress more like Penny or Chewy or something?

Haha nah nah, I’ve looked through their stuff, they have good things that’ll fit me.

Jacob: To some people the duties of being a sponsored skateboarder is a chore, but for you it doesn’t seem this way. Do think there is some element of your personality that really enjoys putting puzzles together? 

Skateboarding is like a massive game and you have to try and figure all these things out. Especially with street skateboarding you have to figure out the architecture around you and physically put something toward that. So filming for me is the perfect kind of way to do it. If I went skating without filming I would skate differently you know. I would cruise around more and skate curbs and whatnot, but when I’m filming I really try and piece together different spots. It transfers into other aspects of my life too. I’m constantly trying to figure things out and piece pieces of the puzzle together.