GLORY DAZE – Episode 2 Ben Chibber – “Rememberin’ the Times…”
Alright, Welcome to GLORY DAZE with Hippie Mike. We’re here at the Monke Warehouse and Dry Spot with owner and chief – Ben Chibber.
Hippie Mike: How’s it goin’ Ben?
Ben Chibber: I’m good, how are you?
HM: Good, Um, just to start off, give us some history about Monke Skateboards. Number one, how old are you right now and how long have you been skateboarding?
Ben: Uhhh, I’m 40 years old now and I’ve been skating for I think 27 years now. On and off for 27
HM: What made you wanna start a skateboard company?
Ben: What made me start? Well, actually… I was sponsored in California, and then I didn’t really like California so I didn’t think I could live down there, so I was up here trying to figure out what to do and I went to college and I wasn’t really into the college thing and I was just like, I gotta get back into skating, what can I do? And the first thing I did, actually I started, or was in partnership with a Skate Shop (Ground Level) up by UBC
and I was importing Girl and Chocolate skateboards and basically just carrying that stuff in that skate shop and after that I was just like, wasn’t really into the retail thing so I went for the wholesale, distributor thing. And I started a Skate Company
HM: That’s Monke Skateboards
HM: What’s the hardest part about a skate shop?
Ben: What’s the hardest part of a skate shop is just basically sitting there all day long. And just trying to market the skate shop. I’m into more moving around and being active so it didn’t really fit what I wanted to do in life…
HM: So what year did you actually start Monke?
Ben: Uhhh, well I was thinkin’ about it for a couple of years. Actually I think I started thinkin’ about it in like ’95 and then I was going through different concepts, but I didn’t actually choose one until like ’98
HM: Why “Monke”? Where did “Monke” come from?
Ben: “Monke” came from, ‘cause we’re basically monkeys just fooling around on our boards. You know, like a lot of parents call their kids monkeys, right? When they just like climbing on stuff and playing around and that’s basically what we do, we’re just a bunch of monkeys foolin’ around on a board
HM: Did you create the design?
Ben: I came up with the concept, and then I brought the concept to my artist, and then we worked on it together
HM: Okay, ummm, Spring Clean Up…(laughing)… What d’ya got? Let’s see some Old School here
Ben: Okay, well, this here is the first Monke Video (Pulls video off shelf and shows camera)
HM: Monke Madness
Ben: Monke Madness. I took my time to figure out how to film, and bought a camera, and…
HM: What’s your favorite part when you watch Monke Madness?
Ben: Oh, my favorite part would be, obviously, Ted DeGros. Just his skating back then. He was only 15 or 14 in this video, and he was just such a rad skater. Had a bunch of different guys in this video…
HM: I know a guy named Ben Chibber that’s in that video and he skates Langley Industrial. That’s the old Langley. I think your part starts there
Ben: Oh yeah, yeah that’s right. But uhhh, yeah, Ted DeGros’s in this, Russ Milligan, Geoff Dermer, Trevor Houlihan
HM: Jason Bailey
Ben: Bailey. Infamous Bailey, from Tsawwassen. Can’t forget him. Bunch of other guys. Oh and in the friends section, I had Keenan Milton, Jason Dill, Tony Ferguson, and uhhh, a couple other locals like Cyrus and… I can’t remember who else. I haven’t seen the video in so long. I only made a thousand copies, and this one’s actually still sealed
HM: What year is this, like 2000?
Ben: Yeah it was, it was 2000. It took me 2 years to film this video and then I put it out, and Jeremy Petit – Big Guns…
HM: You know that I moved here in ’98 from Ontario and I knew Monke Skateboards before I moved here?
Ben: Yeah I was workin’ hard back then (laughs), tryin’ to get it out there. That’s sick. It was actually easier to get product out there, but now a days, I mean back then a video was cool, like how many videos came out? But now we got the internet and the so much skate footage out there that you know, you start a skate company and put a video out there, no one even cares
HM: (Holds video up to camera) Do you kids even know what one of these things is? (laughs) It’s a VHS
Ben: I don’t know what else I got here… Oh, I got Russell milligan’s promo tape… I got Brian Weary’s video. People know Brian Weary, 403… Current sponsors: Source Skate Shop, United Riders, 403. I liked Brian Weary, but we just had already too many people on the team. You can only commit to a certain amount of people
HM: So whad’ya think, lookin’ back in time, what was your favorite experience in the 1990’s?
Ben: As a skater, the 1990’s?
HM: ‘ Cause I mean, to me, the 1990’s were what made skateboarding what it is today, because in the 1980’s, skateboarding was huge and then it kinda fell down, and almost fell right off the map, and then the ‘90’s brought it back, and today has fed from those technical days of the 1990’s. So what do you remember the most about the 1990’s
Ben: Oh, just goin’ down to California and meeting everybody that was part of the skate industry, and all the main dudes. I was lucky enough to like meet all those guys and skate with those guys, and hang out with those guys
HM: Like who?
Ben: Well, obviously I grew up with Rick Howard skating here in Vancouver. Now he owns, or has his hands in like 5 different skate companies and he’s done really well for himself. I mean, I remember skating with Jamie Thomas and Ed Templeton, and just being there. I was down there when like World Industries first started and just seeing that. Just seeing those guys kind of doing their thing, like when H-Street was huge, that was pretty sick, right? It was just cool to be down there. And Vision was super big, the company, and just meeting all those crazy fuckin’ ‘80’s skaters. They were just, they were crazy
HM: They were. ‘Cause skateboarding was definitely a different feel back then, like we’re not accepted into society, you know, skate parks if they existed were out in the trees, and really they didn’t exist. So there was Vert Ramps, there was Pools and there was Street
Ben: So you’re saying, what was my favorite, what do I really think about? Well yeah, I guess I think about the first time I ever went down to Cali, and you know, I hung out with Jason Dill when he was like a little kid. And like hangin’ out with the first girl that did a handrail…. Sasha Clark. She’s the first girl to do a handrail. Actually she works for, I think she works for Soul Tech. And just seeing all those people, yeah it was rad. Seeing Gonz down there, that was sick
Ben: What little I have, I cherish (laughs) because I don’t have that much, ‘cause I wasn’t that competitive for that long. (Pulls out a skateboard trophy)
Anyways, this one right here is probably my favorite. This is my most talked about skate contest when I was a kid. It was 1989, I don’t know what the day was, I think it was like Spring or something. But we used to go to these contests in Corvallis that were like to qualify for the ones in California. So we’d go to Oregon, and then the next ones would be in California, and then the next ones would be in San Diego, if you made it all the way to the finals. So this was the first one, and I got 4th so that means I would’ve qualified to go to the next one. I got fourth… the first place was this little kid named Chris Brandon, I don’t know how he got 1st, but he beat Salman Agah who got 2nd, and if you don’t know how Salman is he’s the guy that basically made up switch. He did all the first switch ollies, the switch nose wheelies, the switch kickflips, I think. I remember him doing back footed kickflips, I’d never seen that before. He has a Pizza place now in L.A. by the Berrics (Pizzanista!). So anyways, he got second, and then 3rd was this asian guy, I can’t remember what his name was… Yip… no his name was Yip Tat. He got third. And then I got fourth, and then I think Mike Carroll got fifth. And Mike Carroll, obviously everyone know who Mike Carroll is, he was skater of the year before, I don’t know what year it was but I was lucky enough to beat him so… don’t hate me. (Pulls out another trophy) And then there was the mini-ramp contest. So there was the street and then the mini and on the mini-ramp I got 11th.
Okay tell us about this picture (pointing to a magazine photo on the wall)
Ben: That photo…. I went on a skateboard tour with Vision Skateboards. So they flew me down to California and we went in a van with a bunch of guys from Cali and we went to this Regional Contest. It was an Am Regional Contest, it was the major contest back then, you know. There wasn’t that many things goin’ on back then so that was like the main one. So that was at Phoenix, Arizona. So we all drove out there. This is a really famous spot in Phoenix, Arizona, all the locals know it. And I ended up shooting this photo and they gave me the back of Transworld. And actually I was the first Canadian to get the back of The Skateboard Magazine. I guess that’s a good feat right?
HM: I’d say so
Ben: Actually I want to find the original. (finds it in another room)
I found it. It was sittin’ right there, forgot where I put it. So here it is. This is how everyone knows me, in California. So the Transworld Skateboarding Mag, June 1990, I think the photo was taken in the winter, in Arizona. And on the front cover, here’s Jim Thiebaud (flips magazine over), and here’s me. See Jim Thiebaud’s one of the owners of Real Skateboards, right? And actually at the Real Premiere, I didn’t really know Jim Thiebaud, I had just seen him, like I remember seeing him back in the day doing wallrides in San Francisco. But I went up to him and I was like, “Hey Jim, how’s it goin’? I’m Ben Chibber.” And he’s all like, “Oh I know you.” And then after and I was looking again at the magazine, I was like, oh, maybe he knows me because he was on the friggin’ cover and I was on the back. I don’t know if he got another cover or not, but it was monumental. Back in the day, there was only 2 skateboard magazines and it wasn’t even that thick, so if you were a skater, you would know every single photo in there. It not like now where there’s a million photos and there’s a million magazines, and there’s a million kids, back then there was only a few people in the magazines. Oh there’s Tony Hawk doin’ a 5-0 on a handrail
(Pulls out another magazine)
This is the first Concrete Powder magazine. It’s not even the first Concrete, it’s the first Media Kit for Concrete. There’s Sluggo on part of the cover, and then there’s me. I got the 3rd page. Doin’ a 1 foot.
So this is basically the first print of Concrete. And there I am, I don’t know what it says about me. It talks about the Expo Banks, The Langley Skate Ranch, Rob Nurmi – he was the main photographer. They mention the Richmond Skate Ranch, thanks Kevin Harris. That was huge. And this is how they started the magazine. That’s my buddy Darren at the Langley Skate Ranch, and then I think I got one more. Oh yeah here on the back, right there. And then Colin McKay, doin’ a nose grind tail grab. So sick
HM: Tell me about this picture
Ben: Oh that picture, okay. That’s probably one of the first 5-0 grinds that I ever did. That’s probably ’89 or ’88. See there’s Colin McKay right there (in the background) grabbin’ his nuts. Colin was a funny guy back then, he’s real funny (laughing) he was always up his little antics. I remember that day, that’s in Richmond and we just stumbled across this spot and I ended up 5-0ing, I don’t even know who took the photo
HM: What is that from?
Ben: Someone from the crew just took it and gave it to me. I think that rails still there
HM: Would you 5-0 it right now?
Ben: (laughs) Sure, why not? If I had to, sure…
Oh, that’s my first skateboard right there. (Walks over to a skateboard on the wall) That’s my very first skateboard. I think I have to take it down, it hasn’t been taken down in years. (takes it down) oh my God, it’s got friggin’ dust all over it. Look at that thing. I think I’ve got Craig Johnson’s signature somewhere on here, from like, ’86. Anyway this is my first skateboard. I don’t know how many people you know that they rode their very first skateboard to “the end”… Basically, I had friggin’ no nose, and I had to drill my holes forward for the back truck to even get more tail, ‘cause I had no tail. So I was basically doing my sweepers and stuff, that’s all we did right? We’re doin’ sweepers, and trying to do handplants with these decks, and anyway, I got this deck from Skull Skates. This is a Steve Olson deck, Skull Skates – Steve Olson. And the son skate now and he’s a Pro, Alex Olson, that’s his son. I got it from P.D. Obviously P.D was the man back then, everyone bought their boards form P.D.’s Hot Shop, right? If you were a skater, so…
(Move into Skatepark)
HM: So tell us about The Dry Spot, the indoor skate park, The Dry Spot. Why did you start The Dry Spot?
Ben: Um, I started The Dry Spot because I just wanted to be more connected, locally. With the brand, I was extending myself out into the world and I just felt like I was travelling around too much, and I kind of just wanted to be more local. So I just changed my business plan into more of a Service Type business. And I wanted to collect cash from people, instead of like “bouncing, rubber cheques”. So that’s basically why, because of the down turn of the economy
HM: Has The Dry Spot been successful?
Ben: Yeah, I mean we’re on our third year, and there’s been ups and downs in doing it, so I learned a lot in the last 3 years about people and business… It’s life lessons, but you know, everything’s good.
Do you wanna know what we do at The Dry Spot?
HM: Yeah, Whad’ya do at The Dry Spot? Plug The Dry Spot. How do people come to The Dry Spot? What is it for?
Ben: The Dry Spot is a place that is mostly built for younger kids, so, you know, it’s built for the younger kids, but the older kids are always welcome to come. This is where a parent can drop off their kids, and it’s a safe environment, it’s controlled. We do lessons, and birthday parties, rentals, drop-ins and skate camps.
The Dry Spot
#312 – 8495 Ontario St, Vancouver, BC
HM: Awesome. I’d like to thank you for coming on GLORY DAZE, and just thanks for everything you’ve done for the skateboard community over the years. I know a lot of people don’t know it, and might not give you the credit for it, but I know what happened
Ben: Thanks a lot, Thanks Mike…