Jeremiah Babb Interview by Jay Croft
JC: Bender has a very cut and paste, do-it-yourself kind of style. Where does that inspiration come from?
JB: I'd rather have it that way. I like the look of it more than a Photoshop/Adobe type layout. My friend Shawn, at Slapstik Skateboards, used to hand draw the most intricately detailed board graphics to size and mail them to the manufacturer.
I was really interested in the Andy Howell book section where he talked about skating during the day and then hand drawing and creating New Deal ads and graphics from his apartment in Atlanta. He then mailed them to California. Once I was handed a grip of paper stickers that were hand drawn and photocopied at his home by David Houser at the Athens park. That really stuck with me.
The Skate Fate book truly changed my whole way of seeing things. And from there, using Look Back Library for as many old TWS/Thrasher/PowerEdge magazines I could afford. I've definitely found the style I like the most. GSD, Tod Swank, Lance and Neil Blender really had some golden layouts in the mid 80's.
DIY is such a common phrase at this point, but yeah...
JC: Tell me about the newest video 'zine? What's your inspiration behind it and what do you hope to obtain by putting it out the way you do?
JB: Matt Creasy from Threads Idea Vacuum wanted to do the initial video, but with time restrictions, working together in the sense that everyone goes out for all day sessions three or four days a week, the way we used to make the local videos, just wasn't possible.
We then roped John Willis into it, but with the group so big and spread out, that wasn't working either. Although John really put in some major effort, he felt like the footage wouldn't create anything that he would be excited enough to work with to make what he thought should be a representation of Bender. I was okay with both of those outcomes. I still wanted to try and do something and Matt explained that I had to figure out a way to make it my style. Or, Bender's style. He expressed the things that stuck with him the most about Bender and that was the cut and paste style and the 'zines. It took a while to process, I had to stop watching all the new stuff that was coming out. I was feeding myself all these new modern projects and was unintentionally getting in that same follow the leader mode. I still watched older videos, but I wasn't watching them for inspiration for this project, yet.... Glam Boys on Wheels, 40's Amigos, Black Label "Crummy Promo", Strange Notes 1-6, 1-10 runs of 411Vm, are always my go to.
Black Sheep Skate shop did a collaboration with Andy Howell that came with a board and a enhanced 'zine. My friend, Bobby picked it up from them and gifted it to me. Looking through this enhanced zine, it was embedded with all these video clips and photos that you scanned with an app on your phone. I had been re watching, pretty often, the Paisley Skates promo that came on a thumb drive. And it just kind of came, that this is how I'm going to try and present this video. I was going to do it by just filming with some people, like I had been doing, but the majority was going to be hitting dudes up asking them to send in footage and just make a mash up of what they had. With all these older influences and being stoked on making things out of what you have available, I had to explain "send whatever it is that you have". I was anticipating a little twenty to thirty-minute video with filler of super 8 rolls I had shot. And having to kind of make it an art based project more than a full-length video.
I asked Scott Wagoner, a longtime friend and respected Atlanta video maker, to help with the editing and creating the project. I think he said there was like five plus hours of raw footage that came in from riders and dudes who were associated and friends of Bender.
JC: What's up with the Atlanta skateboard scene, past and present. What's the current state of the scene in your opinion?
JB: The scene is good. It's always been good and for the last twenty years that I've lived here I can say it's still the exact same. Just different trends and players. There's the backyard ramps, a couple of small DIY spots, there seems to be good crews out in the streets working on projects. Some older dudes at the bar. Some killer dudes coming up. A grip of guys trying to create and capture the scene. And still the main two shops, Ruin and Stratosphere. The local brands seem to be coming in strong, which is sick.
Atlanta has always been really competitive as far as skaters trying to vie for the industry's attention to help create their future with skating. But the newer generation seems to be more based in terms of keeping more things local. Support for regional brands. Creating their own brands. Good things man.
I'm glad I get to still be around it and as a 40-year-old dad living in the suburbs it's inspiring to me the support the scene shows for Bender. I love going skating. I love the city, the scene. I love being a part of it and trying to contribute.
JC: What's next for you and for bender?
JB: I want to get some more little promo type videos going. Figure out how to use the website better. More 'zines. More products. More skating. Shake hands, look people in the eye and keep it going type of stuff.
( Check out a retrospective of Bender ads below)