Quintin Lamb discusses Valo, living with the Haitian guys, racial tension and why he has little interest in filming another section in Memphis.
Sometimes it takes sheer determination and a relentless obsession in order to complete an interview and Quintin Lamb is the perfect example of why this is the case. The Memphis marauder first came to our attention via various online edits alongside his effortlessly cool crew of Southern misfits that included Zach Tierce, Taylor Popham and Andy Jacuzzi, a collective that was known as Thee Worst Dudes for a while. His skating possessed just the right amount of arrogance and he gave off the impression that he just did not give a shit about anything, but the difficulty of his switch-ups and lines suggested otherwise. The moment we laid eyes on his rugged, technical, creative approach to blading, we knew he was exactly the kind of skater we wanted to champion within the pages of Wheel Scene, but securing an interview with him would prove to be pretty challenging and we ceased producing print issues before we got the chance.
Finding footage of Lamb online isn’t exactly the easiest of tasks either. In fact, the last time we checked, there are only about three sections floating around and one of them was deleted following a dispute with the Haitian guys. His part in Thee Worst video still looks strong despite being three years old and he had some great clips in Valo V, but last year he released an edit wearing SSM skates, which signified the end of that relationship, and we haven’t seen much of him since. However, he is currently riding for Ground Control and Street Urethane and, despite keeping a low profile, he is still actively involved in the scene and was spotted at Pow Wow and Motor Town Classic this year.
After a couple of failed attempts to get in touch with Lamb, we finally got him to agree to a feature back in August 2014, but it has only now come to fruition a year and two days later. However, he came through for us with some great shots and a short edit that is long enough to reinforce why he is so interesting to watch but short enough to make you want more. Now that we have finally managed to pin him down for a chat, we wanted to find out why he is no longer riding for Valo, what happened when he went to live at the Haitian house in Los Angeles and if we are going to have to wait another year to see a full section.
As soon as the FaceTime window opens to begin our video chat, Lamb lights up a joint and advises that he has just returned from a long day of studying. Whenever someone starts smoking weed at the start of an interview, it usually means one of two things: the person is either setting up to be candidly honest or is inevitably going to greet every question with a mumbling, nonsensical response that doesn’t necessarily have any relevance to what is being asked. Thankfully, the subject on this occasion proved to be the former. Throughout the conversation he presents himself as a mellow, personable character who is not afraid to make fun of himself and some of his answers highlight that he considers the way he presents himself in blading a lot more than his output to date suggests.
Wheel Scene: Hey! What have you been up to today?
Quintin Lamb: I just got back from school.
Oh, really? What are you studying?
I am doing a film major and marketing minor.
How long have you got to go until you finish?
Maybe another year and a half. I added a minor, the marketing part, so that’s going to take me a little bit longer to finish up.
The last time most people saw you was when you were dropping Big Sean lyrics in Don Bambrick’s Vibralux VOD. Before that, we haven’t seen a section of you since last year’s UFO edit. Where have you been hiding?
I average about a piece a year. I go to school and I work, so that takes a lot of my everyday time up. I’m kind of over skating in Memphis, so… I feel like I get more done when I go out of town to skate. The edit I sent you was not filmed in Memphis.
Why are you no longer skating there? What’s going on with the scene in Memphis?
There’s nothing wrong with the scene. I think we’re all just a little jaded on the spots. I don’t know. There’s something exciting about going to a new city and getting a few pieces and coming back home, man. Hitting the same streets just gets kind of boring. It’s harder to look for things.
So, basically, you have run out of new spots?
Yeah, in other words. When people come into town, there is plenty of shit for them to skate.
Just not for you?
No. I mean, there’s… Basically, no! (coughs uncontrollably)
(Laughs) You okay?!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Erm… Other than that, I play in a band and that takes a lot of my time up. I skate a lot more than people think though. I skate the park at least once a week, twice a week, maybe more.
What do you do for work?
I work at this barbecue shop – I’m a cook. It’s pretty interesting. I don’t know if you know because you’re from the UK, but Memphis is, like, the barbecue capital of America.
So, like, pulled pork and stuff like that?
Yeah, exactly. So, day to day, that’s what I am usually doing. I’m working there if I’m not in school.
Fair enough. I guess the first thing I want to know is: what happened with Valo? You were in V and then the next time I saw an edit of you after that you were riding SSM skates.
Erm… I’m not really sure. (Laughs) Obviously me and the Haitian guys had a slight falling out while I was living out there (Los Angeles), which… I mean, I don’t really want to touch on that too much. I was just kind of being an asshole, I guess. That kind of leaked over to the whole Valo thing, but I don’t think that’s what ultimately got me off of Valo. There’s a huge team and… I don’t know. Sometimes it’s just easier if they weed certain people out. I don’t know if you noticed that.
I have noticed that, over the years, that people who don’t fit with the image of Valo tend to disappear.
Yup! Very true. There’s countless names that I could drop. This isn’t even about that, but that’s pretty much what happened. I’ve always wanted to skate Shima’s though, that’s the thing. They just look so damn good. It was kind of a natural change for me.
Okay. You just said you didn’t want to talk about the Haitian thing, but weirdly enough that was the next question I had planned! Do you want to talk about it?
No, it’s fine. We can talk about it.
Brian Bina claims some weed went missing from the Death Gime Manor and that’s why he deleted your edit, and Malcolm Heard claims you blew out a tyre on his van and replaced it with a shitty one. What’s your side of the story?
Well, he was mad at me and Labarre. But, yeah, that is exactly right.
So that was the reason you guys fell out?
Yeah, it was kind of over money, man. I don’t want it to be a sore thing. We were all young and we learned from it. I’ve talked to him and I’ve seen Bina… Those are great dudes and I love them to death, honestly. That was all so trivial to me. I have nothing bad to say about them and I miss all of them.
Well, when you live in close proximity like that with a bunch of people, you are bound to get on each other’s nerves eventually. It doesn’t mean you don’t like each other; you just need a little space.
Yes, sir, exactly.
Even though you are no longer riding for Valo, you are still on Ground Control and Street Urethane. When did you start riding for them?
I started riding for Ground Control last Pow Wow in 2014. I was just skating and Keaton Newsom was like, “Do you have a frame sponsor?” Create Originals was sending me stuff but I wasn’t sponsored by them, and that just stopped because Create kind of stopped. He said, “You should definitely skate for Ground Control.” I was already skating Ground Control frames, so that was a no brainer. I got on Street before that. BFree set that up. I went on tour with him for the Valo V thing and we got super close, and I guess he just thought I would be a good fit.
Does that mean that you’ve got any plans to do one of those Watchlist 13 edits for Ground Control in the near future?
(Laughs) That didn’t sound very optimistic!
Here’s the thing – I don’t want to film it in Memphis. I have an HD camera, that’s not the problem. I just don’t want it to be filmed and made by my crew because my crew makes all my stuff. I want Ant Medina or somebody random… Somewhere else to do it. You see what I’m saying?
That’s understandable. It keeps things fresh.
I want every part that I put out to be kind of different. I don’t know… Whatever.
I was going to ask you about that because you told me a while ago that you had bought a high definition camera, but the edit you filmed for us was all in standard definition. Why are you not using the new camera?
Here’s the thing, I basically film with Ray Kronenberg and Taylor Popham and they live in Nashville in Chattanooga. We’re basically three hours from each other. If you have VXs in a different city… I go to Chattanooga, we have the same footage and we can match it up. If everybody has a different camera… If the footage is all the same, it’s a lot more productive that way.
You mean for consistency with the footage?
Yeah. I mean, we’re getting on the HD game too.
With skating for Street, and AJ back to being incredibly productive behind the camera, has there been any talk about filming a part?
Yeah. One thing about that whole thing is that AJ is super organised…as far as talking to the team goes. If you notice, the team is small and concise. He has talked to us about making a video and going from there…like, the whole team. I don’t know what he has in store specifically, what it will be, but we’ve got some big plans coming up.
So he is thinking about doing another full-length video?
Oh, yeah. It’s in the loop. We’re working on it. It hasn’t started, but we are planning…I guess.
How are you going to be able to balance that with being at school and working? Wait, why are you not on summer vacation right now?!
I’ve been on summer break for the last three months. I just started back yesterday.
Right, that makes more sense!
I’ve had a fucking great summer.
Apart from going to Detroit for Motor Town Classic, were you at Pow Wow this year as well?
What else did you get up to?
This summer I just made a bunch of trips around Tennessee and filmed with my homies. You know all the Possessed stuff you see? That’s just us hanging out and travelling around the South. I don’t know how to explain it. We’re not trying to make skate videos, we just are skating, filming and eventually we have enough clips for an edit.
Just capturing whatever happens and seeing what you’ve got at the end?
I saw Andy Jacuzzi in a couple of those edits. He is amazing. Does that mean he is blading again? I heard he stopped for a while.
Yeah, he’s in a few of the last edits we made. Andrew still skates. I think he just stopped trying to skate “professionally”, you see what I’m saying? Like, for sponsors and stuff. But he totally shreds all the time.
That’s good news because he is incredibly talented. I have been throwing questions at you for a while now. Is there anything you would like to talk about?
(Laughs) As far as the whole old school rollerblading debate and clothing and trends, I think blading is in a really solid spot in terms of diversity. I don’t go to contests any more and see everybody in black, skinny jeans. There’s a little bit of flavour in blading and I think that’s a huge step for us. People are wearing overalls and jean jackets and…basketball shorts and shit. It’s not so confined to one fucking thing.
It did seem like, for a while, it followed a very uniform pattern of baggy jeans, then one up from a size you would normally wear, then hip-hop fashion kicked in, then the rocker phase… It does seem like there is a lot more diversity now.
It’s fucking great. You’ve got the Chicago kids and their style, then you’ve got the 9to5 Media kids, the New York kids, the Philly kids… There are multiple scenes within the South too. It’s pretty awesome. Everyone’s got their own swag, per se, going on. I like that it’s going back to crews. People from Tennessee don’t skate like people from the west coast or wherever else. It’s cool.
You guys obviously have a history of making videos, with Possessed and Thee Worst. Have you ever thought about making a crew video?
Like a DVD?
Not necessarily a DVD, just something you can all look back on when you’re older and say, “This is the best example of what we were capable of.”
Yeah. I mean, I just left Chattanooga and me and Ray were thinking about something like that. I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with Taylor Popham recently but he has been fucking killing it really hard. With him back in the mix, the crew is actually a crew again. We’ve been thinking about it, but I don’t know. Making a video is hard.
Tell me about it! I have been trying to get Ant Medina to make some videos for us, but even just filming with guys in Texas would require hours of driving just to get somewhere and potentially only get ten or so tricks in a weekend. It would take several of those trips just to film one section…and that’s if no-one gets hurt while filming.
Then there’s the times when you don’t land tricks…
Exactly. Race-related tension in the USA has been in the media a lot recently, with the Ferguson shooting and subsequent riots, and the churches being set on fire in South. How is it from your perspective, as a young, black man living in the South?
God, dude, that question is so deep, man.
What goes through your mind when you see stuff like that on the news?
I don’t think anybody in my generation is necessarily familiar with it, but it’s just something that fucking sucks. It sucks that we’re still dealing with racism. I know that’s a really stoner way… “Oh, man, it sucks!” I can’t believe we are still fighting about race and such trivial things. There’s a lot more to life than that. I’m just glad that my parents raised me in a way that I can never see people like that, as far as colour, you know what I’m saying?
“I can’t believe we are still fighting about race and such trivial things. There’s a lot more to life than that.”
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s a race issue or a class issue because a lot of these things are happening in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods, where the police have a history of dealing with citizens, black and white, with a certain amount of disdain. The reason I brought this up is because you street skate, which is essentially an illegal activity, and you smoke weed, so that gives you a greater chance of having an encounter with the police than the average person.
As a black man, does that worry you?
Oh! I see what you’re saying. Honestly… I felt that tension more in LA than I do in Memphis, to be totally honest with you. In Memphis, I guess it’s pretty wild down here, so when cops see us skate they just scoff and… (Laughs)
(Laughs) They’re like, “Look at those fucking guys!”
That’s a grown man on rollerblades! Good for you! (Laughs) For some reason, in LA, we got hassle with some… There was definitely some trippy race vibes going on. It was a Hispanic cop actually, so…whatever.
What was the scenario?
We were skating a school that was gated off. We hopped a fence and… We happened to be at that famous Compton school, so they were like, “What the fuck? Do you even know where you are?” Of course we did! With Google and all this technology, that’s how we got there. They were pissed because we broke in, but they didn’t do anything out of line, but there were definitely some tense vibes. And then, another time, I got hassled by a vato-type dude, like bald head…
What the hell is a vato?! You mean a Mexican gangster-type guy?
Yeah. I’m pretty sure it’s Spanish for a homie or whatever. He was trying to hassle me one day when I was coming home from the grocery store. His girlfriend was with him actually and that’s the only reason he didn’t steal my shit. She told him to leave me alone. It was awesome that she was there.
You were like, “Thank God for this woman!” It’s weird that someone would randomly try to start a fight with you while he’s out with his girlfriend.
No, he wasn’t trying to start a fight with me. He could have easily fucking killed my ass. He was trying to steal my shit and just go away. There was no way I would have fought that dude, man! He was terrifying. I was not trying to fight him. I wish I could show you a picture of this guy…
I’m starting to get an image in my head of what he might have looked like!
He knew. He knew I wasn’t trying to fight him.
Near death experiences aside, now that you are back at school, are you just going to be studying and working for the rest of the year?
We’re going to try and start working on the Street video, but that’s going to take time. I don’t want to get anyone riled up because it’s not going to come out any time soon. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Cameron Martin – he made the DTB video (Dem Tennessee Boys). When you asked me about the GC edit, that’s who came to mind because that’s who I want to make it. It just takes time. He doesn’t live near me. He lives three hours away, works full-time and I work every day, so… That’s what I want to work on.
“We’re going to try and start working on the Street video, but that’s going to take time. I don’t want to get anyone riled up because it’s not going to come out any time soon.”
Surely it wouldn’t take you long to film 13 tricks for a Ground Control Watchlist edit?
I don’t know. With something like that, I would want it to be hammers so that could take time. I wouldn’t want it to be 13 tricks and five of them be lines – that’s stupid.
So punish yourself all day for a trick and then take a week to recover?!
That’s true, but that’s just so fucking scary. I don’t feel like you get good footage like that either. I’ve always noticed that you get the best footage when you’re just out with the homies when the morale is up. If you go out and you’re like, “We’re just going to get these fucking bangers”, it’s all about you and the pressure’s on. The crew mentality just makes for better clips because you have more opinions on what you should do. You just get better footage because you’re less stressed out.
So you prefer a more natural vibe?
Yeah. It just goes back to the whole old school-type vibes, it’s kind of like that.
That seems like as good a place as any to round things off. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
All right, man. It’s been great. Let’s try and work on something together in the future.
Photos: Brian Bina and Zach Tierce
Watch more videos of Quintin Lamb HERE.
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