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Interview: Aaron Jago


Portrait: Leo Sharp.


Having done some research to get these questions together, I can’t see that you’ve ever had an interview before. Is this actually the case?

Yeah, I’m not allowed to publicly speak (laughs). No one wants to talk to me. I think, actually, when I was 14 or 15, I had an interview in a magazine called Forecast, and James Threlfall did that, but that’s the only time that I can remember doing one.

So this will be your first proper interview then?

Yeah, this is my first proper interview for sure.

Who started skating first – you or your brother Elliot?

We started skating on the exact same day.

Elliot: We got the first board from Sports Direct. It was a No Fear board.

I left the No Fear board on the driveway, so my dad made a point of running it over with his van, because I shouldn’t leave my skateboard on the driveway.

Elliot: That was a shared board as well. After that I had a Poison complete.

I had World Industries complete with gold trucks and gold wheels, and I fucking loved it to bits. My dad was really into fishing and we had a house near Roscoff in France that used to belong to a butcher, and we’d skate in the garage…

Elliot: It had the hooks in the ceiling from where the pigs would be hung and stuff.

So you were effectively skating in an abattoir?

Yeah, but it had a concrete floor, and we had one of those plastic kickers that you’d get from Argos.

Elliot: We would go out to that skatepark in Pontivy and that was where we both learned to drop in on the same day. I’d have been eight or nine, Aaron would have been 12.

Growing up with Ells was good to be fair. Elliot, for the tape, could kickflip off anything from the age of five. There was a roll in at The Unit that must’ve been six foot high, and we all bullied him into flipping off it once.

Didn’t he take your place on Skate Warehouse when you left?

Yes he did.

Elliot: I was already on.

On yeah, you were.

Why’s he not replaced you on Jart now you ride for Santa Cruz?

Elliot: They’ve already got one Adrian Bulard (laughs).

Roughly 400 tries and six sessions later, birthday boy Aaron claims kickflip victory in Torquay. Photo: Leo.


Jamie ‘Chizel’ Hamer: Tell us about your experiences with The Unit Skatepark. What was the deal with that?

I grew up skating The Unit Skatepark in Launceston, and that was run by Christian Methodists. You would skate for free on a Tuesday night for a couple of hours if you listened to a 15-minute bible passage, so we would all go listen to the bible for a bit then have a shred (laughs).

Chizel: I heard you used to have to do a certain routine before going out on Unit skate trips…

There might have been an occasion where I had to pray (laughs), but I’m not going to comment on that.

Before The Unit Skatepark, I was only skating flatground on country lanes.

Are you religious yourself?

Nope. Without The Unit Skatepark I might not have even started properly skating; before that I was only skating flatground on country lanes. Me and Elliot grew up in a village called Chillaton, which is properly in the middle of nowhere in Devon. There was nothing to it; I think we had a local shop and that was it. There was one tiny square by a junction, and we learned our flatground there, in a 10-foot wide bit of space. Without The Unit, we’d have definitely struggled. Mum would drop us off at the park then go to work at the Halifax bank in Launceston, we’d skate the park all day until Mum finished work, then she’d come back and grab us on the way home. That’s what enabled us to actually skate, because in Chillaton, there were no buses, so you couldn’t get out of the village unless you got a lift. As kids, that was a nightmare, but The Unit was only a 15-minute drive away.

Let’s talk about Okehampton, where you live now – what are the best things about living there?

Fucking hell, I don’t know where to start. Okehampton is not the best place to live, I can’t lie, but I’ve got a Labrador called Pablo who I adore, and there’s a really nice reservoir and some woods, so I spend most of my time there with my doggy; it’s just nice and peaceful.

Do you spend more time with Pablo than you do with your girlfriend Juliette?

Definitely (laughs), they’re fighting for my attention.

Another Jago saga comes to an end at the last possible minute. Backside smith, Truro.

Photo: Leo.


Am I right in thinking you’re currently 24 years of age? What does day-to-day life look like for you?

I am 24, yes. Day-to-day life…I skate a lot, I do a bit of labouring work with Cam (Loki Ash) if I can get it, spend time with the dog. I play drums so I spend a lot of my day in my shed, on my drum kit, and spend a lot of time with my girlfriend.

How did you come to play drums?

I started playing drums when I was at school. I played guitar first, I played guitar for years, and then I started playing drums in the music room and really enjoyed it. I play super weird; I’m open handed, my feet are all wrong…I’m not exactly a good drummer, but I love playing. I’ve got a little Roland electric kit, which is wicked.

How does your daily life compare to that of your old school friends? What does your typical Okehampton-dwelling 24 year old get up to?

They all go to uni and have their shit sorted, and I’m just a wanderer; that’s how it’s different. I’m just kind of going with the flow. To be fair, one of my girlfriend’s mates went out to Ukraine at the start of the fighting. There were videos of him on Instagram with big guns, in the back of a car, going out to fight. He wasn’t Ukrainian either, or in the army; it was a random English lad from Exeter who fancied himself as a bit of a Rambo, and he must have found his moment.

Protracted backside flip, clearing both pole and pavement in Plymouth. Photo: Leo.


When you left school at 16, what was on your mind? Did you go to college, or were you thinking that you’d be able to get by purely from skating?

My plan was to go to uni. I wanted to go to BIMM’s (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) Bristol campus to study drums and drum tech, but thinking back to it now, that seemed like the right move at the time, but I ended up traveling more with skating, and I just blagged it for a while.

You were quite embedded in the comp scene for a few years. What was your introduction to contest skating?

My first comp was at The Unit in 2011. I entered my first comp there when I must’ve been 13. I won a board, Elliot won a board, and it was a good time. Fuck knows what tricks went down, though (laughs).

How did you go from being a kid entering competitions in Launceston, to becoming a regular face on the European competition circuit?

In 2014, there was a Volcom Wild in the Parks competition at Prevail Skate House in Dorset, and I came second. Nelly (Mayelle) came third, Raf (Sayer) was first, but the prize for coming top three was an all expenses paid trip to Seville for the Wild in the Parks European final, and that ended up being an amazing trip. I’ll always remember waking up Nelly at 4am so we could go skating the park. No one else was there and Nelly hardflipped the stairs. I think I entered NASS around then too, with the Skate Warehouse lads.

Who knew there was more to skateboarding in Taunton than the vert? Padless handrail ollie with no transition on radar. Photo: Leo.


You were on Skate Warehouse for a good few years – how did you end up in the mix there?

Adam Keats lived in Okehampton, so he was always the guy that, when I was younger, was actually doing stuff, and he was naturally really good at skating as well. He took me in, then got me hooked up with Skate Warehouse, and those guys looked after me when I was growing up. We went on a bunch of little trips with Skate Warehouse, and shout out to Keats for that, because he used to put in the miles. It’s pretty quiet in Devon, there’s not a lot going on, so he drove us to a lot of places, and kept us all skating, really.

To me, the situation was ridiculous. I was just thinking, 'why is Bam Margera in our Airbnb...?

You won quite a lot of competitions as the Skate Warehouse team, if I remember rightly.

We did alright at Shop Riot. That’s actually how I ended up getting on Vans, because I skated with Manhead (Josh Young – U.K. Vans TM) at the 2017 Shop Riot finals at Rotterdam. Afterwards he sent me a DM asking if I wanted shoes, and I’ve been gassed since then (laughs).

Didn’t you end up going to Amsterdam for a Dew Tour event back in 2017?

One of the first NASS comps that I went to, I won the amateur competition, and the prize for that was a spot on this Dew Tour event called Am Search. That was in Amsterdam, and that was a crazy, crazy trip. I met Theotis Beasley, Rob Maatman and a whole load of other sick people. That was the competition where the standard of skating really kind of hit me for the first time, and I thought to myself, “fuck me, the level here is incredible”. I did not do very well, at all (laughs). I spectated mainly. I think that competition was why I got on Jart, though. I met Alex Braza, who was the Jart TM. I got to know him, and he was keen to start flowing me boards

Lockdown ledge training pays dividends in Hayle. Backside lipslide 270 out. Seq: Leo.


Chizel: Wasn’t there one time at a comp where you played guitar for Bam Margera?

This one sounds so far out there. I was in Estonia for Simple Session with all of the Latvian lads that I met through the competition circuit. One day, Madars Apse says, “one of my mates is coming over”, and it was fucking Bam Margera. He came in and he was super, super normal. I can’t even lie, I was obviously fan-boying like fuck. I wasn’t going to say anything or make it known, but to me, the situation was ridiculous. I was just thinking, “why is Bam Margera in our Airbnb?” There were acoustic guitars about and I can play some CKY songs…I don’t know if he noticed or not, but I played a couple whilst he was there (laughs).

What was it about the European contest circuit that you were attracted to back then?

It sounds a bit random saying it, because I did skate a lot of competitions, but I don’t actually enjoy skating in competitions. I’m not very competitive, I was never there to win, I was just there for the people and the atmosphere. I did always like to be around people who were pushing themselves, and being able to watch the level of skating at these competitions when you’re from the middle of nowhere is really cool. It helped me try things, and learn a lot of new tricks. When I was skating at home, I’d be around good skaters, but when I went to the competitions, because there’d be such a diverse group of skaters, I’d see all sorts of different skating taking place, and that influenced my own skating a lot. The jam sessions were always really fun, but as far as when they announce, “Aaron Jago, it’s your run…” fuck that, I genuinely hate it (laughs).

Weren’t you involved in the early stages of Skateboard GB and their road to the Tokyo Olympics? I remember you saying you were sent to a Street League event in Brazil.

Kind of. The gist of it was there was Skateboard England, then there was the British Roller Sports Federation, and everyone was calling them the ‘Rollerblading Federation’ at the time. I got hit up by the Rollerblading Federation, and they said, “do you want to go out to a competition in Brazil, on an all expenses paid trip?” I’d always wanted to go to Brazil and was never going to say ‘no’ to that. Then all of the shit hit the fan and between Skateboard England and the Rollerblading Federation; it turned into a bit of a warzone as there were two different teams from the U.K. at the comp. I actually dodged most of the hate; a lot of people were mainly asking, “what’s going on?” rather than being like, “fuck you”, but it was a bit tense. I skated the comp in Rio though, and I’m pretty sure I did really badly. I remember turning up to the warm up, seeing all of the Street league heads and thinking, “I should not be here”. I’ve never felt like more of a fraud in my life (laughs).

'Mayday' is the phonetic equivalent of 'M'aidez', the French expression for 'help me'.

Photo: Leo.


Are contests something that you’ve made a conscious decision to step back from?

It’s not so much that I’ve actively stepped back from comps, it’s more that I’d rather focus on things like filming, and going on trips for Vans and Santa Cruz; that whole side of skateboarding is new to me. And as well, I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about proving that I can skate street. I want to get some decent street stuff out; I’ve really enjoyed the process of filming for my Vans and Flatspot part, sometimes (laughs).


Tell us about the Vans and Flatspot part you’re currently trying to wrap up.

I’ve been working on the part for a fair while now. We started filming just before COVID, filmed by Chiz, obviously, with a couple of clips from Nick ‘Absolute Bastard’ Richards; shout out Nick! The original concept for it was that I wanted to put out a part that I was proud of. I had a bunch of spots in mind, but because of COVID, we’ve ended up filming the majority of the part in Devon and Cornwall. It’s taken so long to film because there aren’t many spots, and what spots we do have are hours apart. It’s also hard to find tricks that Barney (Page) hasn’t already done (laughs).

I know from personal experience that you meet some characters when out street skating on the south coast. Give us a memorable run in you’ve had with someone whilst on the hunt for street heroics, please.

We were skating a rail in Dartmouth and one attempt when I came off the rail, my board bounced up and hit some old lady’s car. She was watching out of the window. She came out and was understandably raging; I tried to say to her that I was really sorry and that I’d pay for the damage. I fully intended on paying her and sorting it out respectfully, but she just says, “I’m getting Will”. We all expected some little old dude to come out, but the next thing you know – no exaggeration – some 6’3” gnarly bald guy comes out, gets straight in my face but didn’t say a single word, which made it so much more gnarlier. As soon as I said, “I’ll pay for it” in a squeaky voice, he throttled me, tried to hit me, ripped off my chain, picked up my board and threw it at me, then he scared us off from that spot for about a year (laughs).

Crab dodging 360 flip into Clevedon fastness. Photo: Henry Kingsford.


Talk us through the kickflip into the bank photo. How much of a battle was that?

That was six or seven different sessions, over 400 goes…I’ve never done anything in skating before like that. I went out for a day with Chiz and Leo (Sharp), it was a good day, then we went to that spot, and I randomly decided to try to kickflip into it, and as soon as Leo showed me the photo, I was like, “fuck, I have to get this”. There’s no run up, so you get a tiny little push then instantly you have to kickflip. The bank you’re landing in is super skinny, the bank was sharp stone, and there’s a raised side, like a little kerb running down it as well. At the bottom of the bank there’s a lip you have to ollie over…I’d get closer each session, then by the fourth session in, I started landing some legitimate attempts.

I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about proving that I can skate street.

How did it feel when you landed it?

To be honest, I don’t have a fucking clue; I just remember having a bit of a tantrum because it was my birthday. I’d got my first day of work in a while with Cam, went to work for the day, Cam treated me to some fish and chips, then the plan was to get the kickflip, go to Dip ‘n’ Dine, then get some beers. So we got to 50, 60 tries in, I started to lose my mind again, and I got to the point where I was so mad that it was ruining my birthday. I stuck one, and by the time I was at the bottom of the bank I was so deep in a tantrum I hadn’t even realised I was rolling away. I just ollied off the bottom at the last second and somehow blagged it. It was without a doubt the best feeling that I’ve ever had from skating.

For the sake of the people reading this who aren’t from Torquay, what’s Dip ‘n’ Dine?

Dip ‘n’ Dine is Torquay’s finest attraction; it’s literally like going on an all-inclusive holiday for an evening. The entry fee has gone up to a steep £15, but there are two swimming pools, a sauna, a steam room, a Jacuzzi, and you get a meal afterwards as well.

Chizel: Tell us about your personal favourite slam.

I tried to backside 360 Hollywood High 16 when I was 18, and got royally smoked. I hit my head, and bruised my arse and the back of my leg so badly that I couldn’t sit down. I had to fly home the next day, and I got super lucky because the row I was on was totally empty, so I could lay down on the opposite side of my body for the entire flight. It was brutal.

Attempting to ride down the Hayle bank backwards is not my idea of a nice time, but luckily Aaron can fakie flip into the thing without so much as a second thought. Photo: Leo.


I heard you also had dinner with Jason Lee on that trip.

I did, yeah. When I went to LA, I went to Orange County with James Threlfall, and we met up with Chris Pastras. He took us around the Stereo warehouse, and then we went for dinner with him. He was like, “is it OK if my mate comes?” And it turned out to be Jason Lee, which was fucking amazing. At the time, I only recognised him from Coach Frank and My Name is Earl, and then when I later found out he was Syndrome in The Incredibles, I was even more gassed on that. The Incredibles is one of my favourite films.

But you didn’t care he had the last section in Video Days?

Of course I did (laughs).

Is there anyone you’d like to shout out?

Other than the people who have been mentioned, shout out to the Flatspot lads, Manhead, and Alan Glass at Shiner. Massive shout out to my mum, big JJ, she’s always been super supportive.

Chizel: Who was your mum hanging out with when you took her to that comp in Paris?

We went to Far and High in Paris, and my mum wanted to come along. I went in to the warm up for about an hour, and when I came back out, and she was sitting on a bench with all of the European female skaters who were at that event. They were all calling her ‘JJ Chardonnay’ and getting her pissed up on wine (laughs).

Follow Aaron - @ajago22

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