Gear Check: Ben Grove.

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

New Normal, the latest full length release from Joe Gavin and Note Shop, is set to premiere at 8:30pm tonight, so in anticipation of the unflinching bout of Mancunion street annihilation we’re all about to be witness to, we figured we’d take some time out of our Friday, and stick a Manc set up under the Gear Check microscope.

And who better to bestow the prestigious honour with than Champagne Supergrover himself, Ben Grove? This man’s love for all things Manchester runs so deep that I’m sure his bloodstream is actually 80% Boddingtons Bitter by this point. Plus he’s got a Note tattoo on his wrist, and another on his finger that simply says ‘Manchester’; if that doesn’t qualify him for a bit of internet shine on day like today, then nothing will.

Ben Grove in Pusherman (2011), by Sean Lomax.

According to Joe Gavin, Grove hammered out his section in no more than five days of filming, before upping sticks and moving to Devon. Don’t forget that Grove harrowingly sawed into his own leg partway through last year too, thanks to a ramp build gone wrong, so I can’t fathom how he’s done at least half of the stuff I’ve heard about for New Normal. I probably wouldn’t be so much as walking down the hall if that was me, let alone flinging a skateboard about with the unwavering enthusiasm of a 15 year old.

Anyway, what is the chosen brand of skateboard that Grove will be flinging about during his New Normal section? Why, the answer to that question is none other than Fake Scum, the brand headed up by Chelmsford musician Rat Boy. Grove is the designated driver of the Scum team vehicle, with hand-picked representatives including Nick Remon, Doug McLaughlan, James Woodley, and Ross McGouran, to name but a few. The graphic is dubbed Tory Spice and depicts a collage consisting of ex-Twitter troll Donald Trump, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and a tessellated wallpaper the switches between what appears to be sheets of acid, and Boris Johnson straddling Big Ben in a King Kong-esque manner.

Obviously there’s a big Note sticker on there, whilst Casper appears to be wearing a Maybe Hardware sticker in lieu of a more traditional Mancunion bucket hat. Ben’s rocked some fantastic bucket hats over the years; the Jackson Pollock inspired Stone Roses one with the lemon slice stuck to it was brilliant.

There’s not a lot to be said about the underside of Grove’s rig. He keeps things simple. Independent Trucks get mentioned on an almost weekly Gear Check basis, and for good reason. They’re sturdy, consistent, and as reliable as they come. Grove has been on the UK Independent team for nearly two decades now, so I’m guessing that the hangers lock perfectly into nosepicks on a whole manner of monolithic structures too. Only Nick Remon could comfortably roll around the pavements of Manchester wheels smaller than 50mm. Grove knows those worn streets all too well, and, as such, can be seen presenting to you here some solid-as-you-like 54mm Skull wheels from his old mates, Death Skateboards. Grove used to live with Death pro Ronny Calow back in the early 2000s, during his Sheffield years; the pair even shared a section on Mischief Skateshop’s 2006 DVD release Northbound, filmed and edited by the much loved and sorely missed Steven ‘Bingo’ Binks. These Skull wheels come in at a 101a hardness; coupled with the sizeable 54mm diameter, I bet you Grove is feeling fairly solid as he’s blasting his through those Mancunion backstreets. I wonder if these wheels are a subliminal tip of the bucket hat to Manchester’s legendary The Skulls Crew…?

Of course, there’s only been one bolt brand that Grove would trust to keep his trucks safely fixed to his plank; Maybe Hardware, owned and operated by the multifaceted Joe Gavin. His forward thinking allen key technology has revolutionised an entire industry. Try them out for yourself and find out why…

It might have begun with Cypress Hill, before being appropriated by Redman, but, safe to say, in 2021, it’s Ben Grove who starts out each day shouting, “It’s time, time for some, time for some Axion!” Kareem Campbell’s Axion Footwear came into being in the mid 1990s, and – under the watchful eye of Dwindle Distribution – went on to produce some legendary shoes (KCKs and The Islander, two name but two), and sponsor some legendary skaters (Gino Iannucci, Guy Mariano), before everything went sour in the mid 2000s and the brand dropped off the footwear radar. There have been several attempted reboots over the years, with all of them failing miserably, but in 2020, Axion sprung back to life, with Kareem himself apparently co-signing the operation. Not only is Kareem in the mix, but in the UK, Ben Grove is in the mix too, seen here sporting their reissue of Guy Mariano’s 1998 pro shoe, The Genesis. The shoe is faithful to its puffy original from over two decades ago, even down to the air bubble and the still very dope white, blue and yellow colourway. The 2020 rerelease of The Genesis was limited to 1998 pairs, so some might say that if you want to get hold of a pair at this late stage in the game, you’re probably going to be wrote for luck. But be sure to tune in at 8pm tonight to witness Ben Grove putting at least one of those 1998 pairs through its Mancunion paces.

And with that, we’ll leave you to go about the rest of your Friday in peace, then make your way back to this link here for 8:30pm to enjoy New Normal!