089: Steve Douglas/The New Deal

Steve Douglas, Stockwell, May 2019. Photo: Tozer

“My attitude has always been simple. How am I gonna improve it? How am I gonna make this better? How can I make today better than yesterday?”

I paid homage to a personal influence for episode 089 when I met up with the great Steve Douglas, a legendary figures in UK skateboarding who’s had an incalculable influence in a career spanning almost four decades.

Steve Douglas, Brixton, May 2019. Photo: Tozer

Like a lot of people, my first introduction to Steve was through his column in RAD Magazine – an essential connection to the global scene in a time before the internet. He was also one of the people behind New Deal Skateboards – another big influence in my life – and other era-defining initiatives like 411 VM.

Photo: Tozer

No matter what project he’s worked on, Steve has been driven by an absolute love of skateboarding, and a work ethic that has enabled him, time and again, to make things happen by sheer force of will. No media in your hometown? Create a zine yourself, as Steve did. Want to push yourself as a skater to become as good as you can? Be one of the first UK skaters to make the move west, and end up as one of the most important figures in the industry. Not happy with the way skaters are being treated by their existing sponsors? Start one of the first truly skater led companies, and turn it into one of the most influential brands ever.

Photo: Tozer

Yep, you’re probably beginning to get the picture – Steve is an absolute legend, epitomising the DIY ethos that is such a crucial part of skate culture, and with a legit claim to be one of the most quietly influential skateboarders of the last thirty plus years. Not bad for a Chelsea fan from North London.

It was a proper privilege to meet Steve and sit down to get the whole story. Big thanks to him for being so generous with his time and experience, and my friend Dan Adams at RaD for being so helpful. Listen to the episode below.

Connect with Steve

Show Notes

  • Steve’s last visit to Brixton over 30 years ago.
  • Checking out Street League.
  • The mind-blowing women’s final.
  • Ben Raemers’ tribute.
  • Primitive demo to release in July 2019.
  • The return of New Deal after 30 years.
  • The nostalgia marketplace.
  • Being a video-based brand.
  • New Deal’s first promo video.
  • On re-launching: “if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it”.
  • The “lost” 15 minute promo video.
  • The 1281 video.
  • Editing videos.
  • The New Deal glory years – 1990 – 1992.
  • Catching up with people behind The New Deal.
  • Paul’s idea behind My New Deal story.
  • The positive feedback online with relaunch.
  • “I think I’m the only person in the era who didn’t like the Powell videos”.
  • H-Street’s shoddy quality.
  • Skate films from the ’90s.
  • Steve Rocco’s influence.
  • The release plan around New Deal.
  • The early years London skate scene.
  • Discovering skateboarding on John Craven’s Newsround aged 11.
  • First skating a flimsy plastic board: “I had to send the wheels back”.
  • Red Kryptonics.
  • The Harrow Boys gang.
  • Rolling Thunder skatepark.
  • The demise of skate media in the late 70s/ early 80s.
  • When Thrasher came out.
  • Americans visiting London during the Eurocana Summer Camps.
  • The era of zines.
  • His first contests.
  • Knowing the skateboarding community.
  • Go For It! Zine.
  • Being weekend warriors.
  • Business skills he learnt from zine making.
  • “School was just a joke: I thought the world was going to end in 1984”.
  • Apocalyptic musings from the 80s.
  • Moving to America in 1984.
  • Rivalry with Bod.
  • UK vs USA skating culture differences in 1984.
  • Crazy stories of Lee Ralph.
  • Making new connections in the USA.
  • Leaving the Madrid team.
  • John Lucero’s graphics.
  • 1986 Expo Contest in Vancouver.
  • Steve’s RaD column.
  • Knee surgery aged 20.
  • Vision being a distributor initially.
  • Bob Denike’s secret woodshop.
  • His business vision since 1989.
  • Not being taken care of by distributors.
  • The shortest secret of first launching New Deal.
  • Agent Orange.
  • The Odd Numbers.
  • Teaching skateboarders to learn business through New Deal.
  • Taking more risks when you start with nothing.
  • Reshaping the distribution industry.
  • The evolution of the New Deal skate team.
  • Gorm Boberg being the unsung hero.
  • Giving credit where credit is due.
  • Launching in UK.
  • “Sometimes if you want to react, it’s best not to react”.
  • Andy Howell’s interview in The Nine Club.
  • When it’s time to start something new.
  • Underworld skateboards.
  • His car accident aged 24.
  • Recovering from surgery.
  • “In my car accident, my skateboarding died”.
  • Not looking back.
  • Nineteen76.
  • Working with brands on your own terms.
  • State of skateboarding: “it’s challenging”.
  • Skateshops and online shopping.
  • Giving respect to the industry that has shaped skateboarding.
  • The lost art of self-policing skate brands.
  • The Olympics brings a whole new wave of talent.
  • Chatting about mental health in the skate community.
  • Why skate shops play such an important role today.
  • His proudest moments.
  • Career at 411: “it allowed people to have a life”.
  • “It’s always: how can I improve it?”.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • Brixton, London
  • Crystal Palace, London
  • Victoria Park, London
  • Manchester, UK
  • Pinnar, London
  • Harrow, London
  • Northwood Hills, London
  • Uxbridge, London
  • Liverpool, UK
  • Andover, UK
  • Leeds, UK
  • Kennington, London
  • Farnborough, UK
  • San Francisco
  • Munster, Germany
  • Vancouver
  • Virginia Beach
  • Stockwell Skatepark

Companies/Brands/Organisations Mentioned