Morgan Campbell

Morgan Campbell

This warm hearted, foot slapping mammal is known for his friendliness and appetite for curbs and beer. Found in urban environments, coming out mostly at night to feed. A powerful yet graceful creature that is known to bite…wheel bite… but still, keep your distance.

Text by Mike Martin

Interviewed by Casey Foley

The legend of Morgan Campbell begins where? When did you first pick up a board? 
I got my first board in 1984 or 1985 when I lived in a suburb called Palmyra.

I inherited my board from a neighbour. It was actually just a circle of wood attached to roller skates with carpet grip tape. I got better boards on and off over the next few years, but my first proper set up was in the summer of 1987.

Wow, 1987! Was there much of a skate scene in Western Australia back then?

Yeah, there was a super strong scene emerging then. No public parks, but a few private ones. It was the late 80’s boom. Maybe two private parks in ‘87 but by the end of ‘88 there were around ten. It was peaking. Jump ramps were the rage.

I didn’t know about skating until I got to high school. Before that – when I was in primary school, BMX was big, but skating, not so much.

So what inspired you to want to ride a skateboard?

As with many guys from my generation, as soon as you saw a person do a flat ground Ollie – that was it – that was what you wanted to be doing.

However, there was defiantly a pivotal day…

At the start of a school day, my friend told me he was going to leave school early to see some pros skate a half pipe in Cottesloe. It was Lance Mountain, Tony Hawk and Steve Steadham. Up until that moment I thought these names were only on boards. I didn’t know pros existed.

I didn’t even know what a half pipe was! We went to the demo and our minds were in tatters. There were maybe 800 kids there. All dressed in the gear…

All trying tricks in the car park. I’ve been hooked ever since. That was in April ’87.

                   

When I was a kid, I watched this cartoon called “Rocket Power”. That’s what got me into skateboarding. A fucking cartoon! Haha.

There are defiantly some stand out names that come from the Perth skate scene, but one that really shines through the rest is Kye Stanley. He seems like some kind of urban legend. Some of the old insta clips you’ve been posting of him are absolutely mind blowing!

Rocket Power! That’s Ill! Haha.

Well to know that some of those clips helped you become aware of the force that is Kye Stanley, makes me want to post more. He was the best to skate with.

For starters, he had no fear, he oozed style like Carroll meets the dancefloor and had so much nollie and switch pop. This was back when everyone was barely leaving the ground!

Who was in your crew back then?

For the really progressive times, it was Kye, Grantley Miller, Sparky, Van Peacock, Dan Ericson and Matt Andrew. I started skating with Brett Margaritis in ’95 then I met Ben MacLauchlan, Clinton (Chipper) Walton, Raoul Willison etc. I lived south of the river, near Fremantle, so all of my initial crew were from around that way. When I started skating with Brett, he was THE man. He was only 13 but he was already pro in our eyes.

Brett has always been a machine. So, I watched your part in “Momentum, Theories of Balance” the other day.  We need to discuss the heelflip indy over the wheel chair ramp! Haha.

Flip grabs were pretty big when I was growing up. Kien Lieu (Donger) did the best ones. I could basically do the heelflip indy over anything I could Ollie, but I knew deep down that it was a stinking trick so I would often hesitate to film them. In this instance I had heel flipped it a year or two before, so I tried to do something a bit harder. The one you mentioned is maybe the only one that I liked as I boned it a little bit. It might have been the same day Kye Stanley’s nollie went down.

You did it down a double set too right? Soo insane!

I did actually… man. I would like sneaking them in for fun when we got to a stair set, before the photographer or filmer was set up. They were a first try deal. So the should have been – you cheat and grab it with your mitts. But over a wheelchair ramp was a little harder as you had to pop it a lot higher.

 

So at this point of your “career” were you a paid professional skateboarder?

I started getting paid a little for my skating a bit later. The part you mention is from ’97. I started getting paid around 2000. I guess it was after spending the best part of four consecutive years skating as many counties as I could. I came home, started study, and then got some money trickling through.

I got paid pretty consistently until 2007, but I was working on and off during that time too. I was always very grateful for anything I got back from skating. Every board. Every trip. Every cheque. Every friend. I am still in disbelief that it all happened.

What an adventure. During this time, you spent some time in the US right? Did you live there?

Yeah, I lived in a few cities in the States between ’96 and ’98. LA, San Diego and Boston. I went on a couple of US tours with Invisible during that time too. One was 23 states, 33 demos in 40 days. Those were the best times.

That is mental! That would have been fucked! After this you lived in Europe right?

It was during that time actually. I would run 3 month visas in the states and go back to the UK rather than all the way back to Australia. I lived in Glasgow. It is a great city.

So you got sponsored by the legendary UK board company Blueprint Skateboards, after Invisible. How did that come about?

I was back in Australia for a couple of months in January ’97 when I finished up that third Momentum video. But beside that I was in the North. Blueprint came about mainly because of spending a fair amount of time with members of the team, especially esteemed Scotts: John Rattray and Colin Kennedy, who were already deeply seeded Blueprint luminaries. Invisible skateboards ended around October ’98 and I was on Blueprint the following January. Their promo video had come out just around then. That was one of their finest moments. I was hyped.

 

Being apart of Blueprint back then must have been very intimidating. Everyone was so gnarly, but you managed to get a pro board right? 

I remember the first time I heard about Blueprints predecessor – Panic it resonated with me. The initial pro team appeared in a double page spread of a 1995 I-D magazine that I read on a plane. I liked its local vibe. I watched it grow from a seedling. Sometimes from afar, sometimes within the surrounding of the team. I loved the challenges of the terrain and they were so apparent in the footage, but you have to go there to really see how rough it gets. By the time they were big, I think I still viewed it as a small, very valid undercurrent in skateboarding. Unfortunately I had commitments in Australia so I did my thing out here. But I really never got a chance to skate with them over there as a sponsored rider. So that may have lead to me being more the Aussie guy and less a part of their tight unit. I am very humbled to have a couple of my Blueprint boards here, even though they were an Australian-only release. Thanks to Dan Magee, Brett Margaritis and everyone else involved in making it happen.

Soo sick mate!! So I was doing some research on your footage and I noticed in the credits of one of your parts that you filmed with Ty Evans and French Fred?! You really know everyone don’t you?! Haha

I met Ty when we were both living in San Diego. It was probably when he was filming for the Rhythm video. Through that meeting I ended up showing the Lakai guys around Perth in 2005 and 2006. Those were some incredible memories. Skating with Guy, Carroll, Howard, MJ and Koston was absolutely off its lips! I will always cherish those times.

Fred I met in Lyon through Al Boglio and Jeremie Daclin. I would get hyped when I was out on the mission with those guys. To be filmed by guys of that calibre is pretty nerve racking, but hey if they are up for it and I have an idea for the spot, then I am down for sure.

These days I am lucky enough to film with Josh Roberts, who I believe is a true great of this era.

Photo: Luxford

Photo: Luxford

 

Absolutely. Josh is killing it. It must be a blessing to still be able to put footage out and be apart of the Butter Goods clips and Domingo II video.

For sure. We just figured out that we have been filming together for ten years now! I don’t think I’ve ever felt this comfortable “working” with a filmer before.

Josh is at the forefront of the VX craft and I am honoured to collaborate with him on such a regular basis with so many rad back drops.

Yeah you guys have been going hard for years. One project that stands out for me is your part in the 4 Skateboards “The Perfect Amount of Lazy” video. This would have been your first full section in several years right?

Yeah that was my first full length video part for a long time. I think my last one before that was around 2003.

Your part in that video is timeless. I still watch it all the time. I actually went to the premiere. I was in hospital with an infected ankle and managed to escape my hospital bed just to watch the video haha. Where were you living during the time of filming the vid?

I am super honoured that you rate the part. For a portion of the filming I actually lived back in Perth. It was for about two and a half months. We got most of my footage then I think. The rest was filmed on little trips to Perth and here in Melbourne. I always seem to get more footage in Perth as I am usually over there for that one purpose. I love it there, there is such a great crew. I always remember old random spots and the weather is super reliable. Plus you know the deal.. Being on the road just adds to the hype.

Photo: Luxford   Photo: Luxford

 

So 10 years of filming on and off with Josh and still to this day, you guys are getting it done. I’m just gonna give you a huge congratulations on that!! How was it filming for Domingo II, ten years after meeting and getting your first clip?

Man, It has been pretty rad. Its all happened super organically too. Ill have to start from the beginning.

I was filming with Ben MacLauchlan for Auto Pilot on Rokeby Road in Subiaco, Perth. I was filming this two wheeled slide noseblunt booger thing down this big bank and Josh just rocked up with his mate. I asked him if he would mind filming a long lens angle and he did.. Really well too. I think his angle got used in the end.

Between then and now, we must have filmed at hundreds of spots. It has been so rad seeing him grow into the wise man he is today. Before I go further I might add that Ricky Watt, Mike Martin, Harry Clark, Alex Campbell are a big part of the equation with Josh.

Filming for Domingo II was so rad, but I was hurting.

Oh, the last sessions we had in France this past summer were some of the best times I had adventuring with the board. Hats of to Josh, Leo and Lauren Valls and all their incredible friends. Bordeaux would have been nothing without you.

Yeah I remember you getting chopped up a few times filming for Domingo. Obviously skateboarding opens the mind of certain individuals and helps create artists, photographers, videographers and hobbies alike. I have been following your skateboarding for numerous years now, but I was never informed or knew of your extreme love and talent with collage work. Have you been doing this for a while?

No not really. It was something I have been working on only for the past few years. I used to keep travel scrapbooks, which have a major collage element, but the pieces I have been working on recently have only been manifesting for about two maybe 3 years. Initially it was all part of a plan to get away from the computer screen.

          

 

Nice one. Do you have a thought process behind each piece of your work? It almost seems your art has a subliminal meaning behind it.

Sometimes I am just playing with layers. Sometimes it is worth giving a little poke at the spiral the planet seems to be in, but mostly I am just having fun with layers and trying to remix some images that I think are awesome. So far the images have been from vintage National Geographic magazines. I guess the irony of the work is somewhat extended when you realise that Rupert Murdoch has recently bought up National Geographic. But no I don’t think there is any overriding theme behind them. I am just happy if they make people laugh or question things – even just a little.

For sure, well I guess the viewer can either make up their own meaning behind the collages or decide to have a laugh and admire the craftsmanship behind it.

Yeah I guess so and I really don’t mean too much by any one piece.. I just like seeing how certain images, colours and eras can work together. The stash of mags I use scopes almost 50 years.

Wow. Do you just find them at opp shops or something?

Opp shops, garage sales, used bookstores and sometimes antique shops.

Your “Deja Glue” exhibition was amazing. I was stoked to see you sold a bunch of your work.

Oh thanks mate. Yeah I sold maybe ¾ of the work at each show. I was pretty amazed to say the least.

Soo rad. Are you working on anything now?

I am actually – working on a board series, a joint show with an origami master and a few other little colabs. Lots of cutting and pasting on the horizon it would seem.

I’m looking forward to seeing them mate! Ok, better wrap this up, I’ve covered a lot of what I wanted to discuss for now. One last question, how does it feel to have such a long relationship with skateboarding and still be apart of the community as much as you did 27 years ago?

As always, I am so amped to be apart of this global movement. Let alone at this point in my life. Sure skateboarding has taken some rancid turns over the years but what we love about it is still right here, for those that really care .