Station Grip is the Milton Keynes based brainchild of James Bush and Kieran Wilcox, a pair of best friends turned business partners who have rallied the granite haven’s skate scene over the last few years as they worked towards their debut video offering, Pillars.
Following on from two sold out screenings at the MK Gallery last Saturday night, the epic Pillars is now online and ready to be enjoyed in full. With plenty of new footage from James Bush, Mark Stern, Jamie Staples, Josh Gregory and soon to be your new favourite skateboarder Alex Waynforth, it goes without saying that Pillars is more than deserving of 28 minutes out of your day.
To coincide with the video’s online launch, we recently sat down with Kieran and James to discuss the history of Station Grip, the filming of the video, and what the immediate future holds for the brand. Read on to find out more…!
L-R: Kieran, Josh, Alex, Mark, Jamie, Bushy. Photo: Big Gaffa.
You two have been a solid duo for as far back as anyone can seem to remember. How did you both first meet? Was it admiration at first sight, or did the flame take a little while to get burning…?
Kieran: I remember it being bromance at first sight (laughs)! I think we were just hanging out and skating together with everyone else at the Buszy at that time. No one was really filming anymore, and I’ve always been interested in filming so I took more of a role in that, which naturally led me to pointing the camera in Bushy’s direction.
James: (Laughing) It was a classic Buszy romance. We just started hanging out more and more and eventually a loving bond was formed. Kiz was stuck with me from then!
Can you give us a bit of background on Station Grip please? When and why did you decide to start the company? How long did the company take to get going?
K: So back in 2018, Bush and Mark (Stern) were on Fabric, and Josh (Gregory) was getting boards from National, but there was no skate shop in MK that sold blank grip. I think the initial idea I put to Bush was to just sell blank sheets, but the more we talked about it, the more we threw ideas out, and it just flowed from there. I think we were mainly hyped to have an outlet to be creative and film.
J: I’d been riding the same board for two months on account of not being able to get grip. We were originally going to just buy blank grip and sell it on, but Kieran asked me if I’d make a logo so he could start a brand. I said rather than paying me, I’d chip in and become co-owner/creative director.
Bushy hardflips the infamous Little Brown Bar. Photo: Swampy.
Footage check, with Gaffa, Kieran and a passing Jamie Staples fan. Photo: Swampy.
What are your individual roles at Station? Who is responsible for what?
K: Bush covers all the design work and is the friendly face/talent scout of Station. I hide behind the camera and cover all the admin (laughs).
J: Kieran basically does everything and I just make it pretty (laughs). I do the animations, logos, branding, clothes and grip designs. Kieran films, edits and takes care of all the accounts, posting and product. So many thanks for taking care of almost everything, Kiz (laughs).
The team is understandably focused on Milton Keyes, though you’re not strictly an MK company. Can you talk us through how the team has evolved over the years?
J: We obviously started off with local people, alongside a couple of people from elsewhere, but mainly through coincidence. We have a couple of announcements to be made soon for people from further afield, but that’s all hush for now. Keep your eyes peeled!
K: I think Bushy’s answered this one perfectly. Shout out to Dan Fisher-Eustance for the getting us in that Gucci advert (laughs)! I’m extremely grateful for the support in other areas of the country!
Jamie Staples kickflips in the MK outskirts. Photo: Swampy.
Jemima Stapleduck. Photo: Swampy.
Moving on to Pillars, when did filming start for the video? Was it a conscious decision from the start to produce a full-length video, or did the idea come together over time?
K: Yeah, I think making a full-length video had pretty much been the goal from the start. We started filming back in 2018. We’re always skating together anyway so it made sense to add a camera to the mix.
J: There’s been massive delays because of injuries and Covid, plus we all work full time, and Kieran is on shift work and works most weekends, so it was a proper challenge organising filming trips. We did intend to film a full length from the start, we’d never done anything like that before so it seemed like the next step!
From the first trick filmed to sitting in the MK Gallery last Saturday night, how long did the whole process take?
K: Filming started around November 2018 and ended about a week before the prem. Lockdown kind of got in the way for a couple months, and we had a few injuries along the way.
J: We were almost done just before the first lockdown, but it wasn’t quite there, then that pushed everything back by nearly a whole year. Then it just needed polishing up, plus we wanted to have a premiere too, so we were waiting for that to be possible!
The Pritchard Gap takes another battering from Bush. Photo: Swampy.
James – how difficult is it for you these days to find new things to film in and around MK? From memory, there were quite a few spots in your section that haven’t really been seen before. Are you going out of your way to find fresh spots to get clips at?
J: Oh God, it’s hell on Earth. I basically worked around it by searching for things that had never been touched before, or barely skated over the last 20 years. The whole video was basically an ode to classic spots - such as Theatre Alley and Station Square - with a mix of things that people might not have seen before. I really enjoyed looking for obscure spots that nobody has skated before though; we found some crusty belters.
The whole video was banging but Alex Waynforth’s section in particular was shocking. Why is he not a household name yet?
K: Great question, I’d like to know the same! This is his first part and he was so motivated to film and make it one people would remember. He’d take days off work to coincide with mine so that we could hit a spot. He really put a lot of work into it, which I think you can tell from his part, and even with injuries he still wanted to keep going right up until the deadline. I’m hoping this part will get his name out there!
J: It blows my mind (laughs). I’ve skated with Alex since we were 11or 12, but he quit for a lot of years, and lived in Australia for a bit. He only started again four or five years ago, but was instantly back on top and improving every day, so he was someone I wanted to hook up and film a part with to see him progress. I think the only reason he isn’t already known is because of his time in Australia, and his time off the board. I hope people snap him up after they see this part so his potential can be further unlocked!
Wilful Wayno wallie. Photo: Swampy.
Waynover it. Photo: Swampy.
Kieran – who was the best person to go out filming with?
K: Sober Bush.
Similarly, who was the most difficult?
K: Drunk Bush (laughs)!
What were the first and last clips filmed for Pillars that made it into the final version?
K: The last I definitely remember. We were about three weeks away from the premiere night. Alex still wanted to try and up his part, and we filmed the line in the theatre alley with the halfcab 5-0 180.
The first clip I’m struggling to remember, but it would’ve been one of Bushy’s clips. Perhaps the switch heel really early in his part over the floor gap. Not a great deal of anything we filmed in the first year made it near anyone’s parts.
Which clip out of the whole video are you personally the most hyped on, and why?
K: This is probably the hardest question to answer. There’s definitely a few highlights. Alex’s fakie flip switch manny down the brick bank underneath the bridge in Oldbrook is definitely one. He did it in maybe five tries and was just so hyped. J-Man and Jamie’s enders were both standouts for me, and Mark’s backside bigspin over the Holiday Inn flat gap is basically impossible.
J: Alex’s switch nose wheelie. It’s just absolutely mental. If you go there it will shock you; I wasn’t there on the day but when Kiz told me he’d done it I thought he was taking the piss (laughs).
Mark Stern avoids the courtroom with a tight frontside smith. Photo: Swampy.
Stern. Photo: Swampy.
Can you talk us through the music you used in Pillars please? How did the soundtrack come together? Am I right in thinking that a lot of it was produced by local bands and artists?
K: Yeah you’re absolutely right. It was always my intention to use as much local music as possible. Every song has a link to Milton Keynes somehow. The intro and Jamie’s part were both recorded by our friends - shout out Adney and Cavernzz. Then Joe Jarvis actually made two tracks - Mark, Josh and the friends part, and also the outro. The credits track is from one of my oldest friends, Jack Peney. Bushy’s tracks and Alex’s track were produced by Mr Brown who I hit up and asked if we could use his music. He grew up skating with Selley in that era, and has followed the brand from the beginning, so I was excited to be able to get him involved!
J: This was Kieran’s idea based on plugging local, talented artists; each artist or producer are close personal friends of ours. Massive, massive thank you to everyone who contributed, we appreciate it!
Who is the crew that helped pull Pillars together? Did you have any help with the filming? How did Joe Jarvis get involved and what was his role?
K: Alex and Gaffa (Callum Edwards) both filmed a few clips, and Marc Rollinson filmed the second angle of Bushy’s ender. But other than that, the rest I filmed myself. I asked Joe from the beginning to be a part of the editing process with me, and he couldn’t be more stoked to help. Plus I didn’t give him much of a choice (laughs). After seeing how well the Susgang video Dart was produced, I had to. It was a pretty huge influence. We sat at mine for a week editing, and then Joe colour graded the whole film. He knocked it out - thank you G!
Joe Jarvis captured in Wolverton. Photo: Edwards.
Can you tell us a bit about the zine that was released in time for the premiere too, please?
J: So the Station hype man Big Gaffa has been coming along on missions and nights out with us the whole way through the process, taking photos as he went. He suggested that he made a zine under the same name to go along with the video, which we both thought was an amazing idea. We had contributions from Alex Waynforth, Jamie Harold and Marc Rollinson too, so thanks to those guys. I’m really hyped on how it came out, it really captures the vibes from behind the scenes of the project. Thanks Gaff!
To coincide with the video premiere, you also released your first collaboration with Clown Skateboards. When and how did that opportunity come about?
K: Jeff from Clown got in touch sometime last year and was keen to collaborate. I can’t even express how stoked I was! Mark Calape was a few years above me at school, so I grew up seeing Clown stickers dotted around the halls, as well as watching the team skating at Station Square. Thank you Jeff for this huge opportunity - go and grab a sheet now!!
J: I’m incredibly proud to be able to stick this one on the CV (laughs)!
Joshua 'JMan Joshman' Gregs. Photo: Edwards.
How was the premiere night for you both? Did you both manage to enjoy either of the screenings, or had the nerves got to you? Haha.
K: Absolutely not. (Laughing) I was a bag of nerves but a few beers sorted me out. Nah, in all seriousness, it was incredible. Having over 100 people sing happy birthday to me after the first showing has got to be a highlight!
J: Absolutely incredible. I didn’t eat anything all day as my stomach wasn’t in a good state, I was shook due to it being the first project I’ve had a stake in, besides actually skating, but the night went so smoothly, the video was well received and the after party was amazing!
James – was this your first entirely sober premiere experience?
J: It was the first premiere experience I even remember to be honest (laughs). It was obscure being sober throughout, but I’m both proud and stoked I kept on the wagon, as it was an amazing night and I remember the whole thing.
The Gaffa. Photo: Swampy.
What’s each of your favourite amusing ‘behind the scenes’ anecdotes that took place whilst filming for Pillars?
J: I mean, the most mental one was meeting my brothers’ blood brother. We’re both adopted from different families. We were skating a spot in Northampton in a school, and the head teacher and groundskeeper came to boot us, very politely. As we were driving off they changed their minds and let us skate the spot; we were shocked (laughs). As I got out of the car and started walking back towards the spot, the groundskeeper said, “are you James Bush?”, which confused me a lot, then he explained that he was my brother’s birth brother! It also turns out the head teacher went to school with Leo Sharp; the two maddest coincidences ever (laughs). Shout out Trev!
K: The amount of coincidences were insane, and also Gaffa and Alex broke ‘the curse’; Alex had never filmed a clip with Gaffa around! There were so many funny moments, to pick one out would be difficult. Drunk Wayno is better than everyone (laughs)!
Lastly, what’s next for Station Grip now that Pillars is out in the wide world? Are you onto the next video, or have got other plans in the pipeline?
K: I think everyone’s extremely keen to go again. I’d love to film another video! The whole experience has been one to remember, from hanging out skating with everyone, all the way through to the viewings and the afterparty. That’s definitely something that I’d like to try and repeat.
J: Yeah, definitely! I don’t think the next one will be a full-length, but we have a couple people we need to welcome to the team, so we want to do something with them and see what forms from there. But I think we’ll take a break before going for another full-length!
Any final words or people you’d like to thank?
K: My girlfriend Laura (Walsh) for all the support! Everyone at MK Gallery for hosting the premiere and anyone who’s supported us in any way! Joe Jarvis for all his help, Gaffa and Swampy, Alex, Mark, Jamie and Josh and everyone else behind the scenes. Jeff at Clown Skateboards for the amazing opportunity. Trav at Illicit, Callum at Daggerhead, Sam at Boardwall Supply, and all of you guys at The Skateboarder’s Companion for the amazing support!
J: Massive shout out to everyone involved in the project. Riders, photographers, editors and all. Also, a massive shout out to Clown for the collab, and to Shiner, Form, Maybe Hardware, éS, Illicit Skate Shop and Get Lesta for keeping me stocked! Also, obviously a massive shout out to you guys at The Skateboarder’s Companion; we can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate the support!
Nate Nero forever. Photo: Callum Edwards.