Jack Thompson has certainly done his fair share of travelling…. he was raised by British parents in New York, a few years later they moved to Belgium, then he found his permanent home in Northern Italy in the medieval town: Bassano Del Grappa… We’ve never heard of it but apparently it’s in the middle of nowhere, despite this Jack has somehow come through with a full part: ‘ACQUA SANTA’. Read an interview by Jono Coote with Jack Thompson to find out more below and then go watch his part.
Introduction + Interview by Jono Coote
Growing up in Europe far away from the once exclusive epicenter of the skateboard industry in California, and changes in recent years that have seen the industry become more and more decentralized as European brands grow in prominence, has been well covered in articles by the score written by skate journalists who are (rightly) pleased that the spatial restraints on being a professional skateboarder are slowly loosening. What is less well covered is the next step of removal from industry brought on by living in a small, out of the way town. Even in California, I would imagine that living deep amongst the backwoods and blue highways isn’t exactly conducive to making a living from skateboarding. With this in mind, getting sent a video part from the depths of Northern Italy – the medieval town of Bassano Del Grappa, to be specific – piqued my interest. What does it take to be a sponsored skater living so far off of the beaten track? I emailed Jack Thompson to find out about filming the part, and about the necessary drive to pursue skateboarding and fulfil duties to his sponsors in an area known more for medieval bridges and high strength booze than a huge skate scene.
Hi Jack, first up this interview is accompanying a video part – what was the incentive for filming this in the first place and is it for a particular brand?
It’s an independent part, so it’s for all my sponsors but none of them contributed to the making of it particularly. In fact the hardest part about it was the filming of it because I wanted it to come out good. Due to the lack of filmers where I live I had to do a lot of it on my own, with a tripod and a random friend to press the record button, haha.
Do you find that is a regular thing, being so far removed from the industry where you are? It must present its own challenges when it comes to what being a ‘sponsored skater’ entails. What has kept you there over the years, and how is the skate scene in Bassano Del Grappa?
I truly think that skateboarding in Italy is hard simply because it’s still kind of underground and misunderstood. In a way it’s good – it still holds its original attraction of being different and in a world of its own – but on the other hand it’s invisible to the people who would be able to fund skateparks and events. I can see the effects of skating in Italy on a lot of people because the result is the same; demotivation. I’ve found myself very demotivated to skate because of the lack of skaters and places to skate, but you make the best of what you’ve got if it’s worth it and so far it has been.
Have you ever been tempted to just say ‘fuck it’ and move to Barcelona? I guess the upside of things being so small is a tighter scene and truly dedicated individuals – in your town you have Eightball Skate Shop, right? How much do they do for the local skate scene there?
Ahahaha so many times, the only reason I’m still here for now is to finish school but it’s almost done so I’m going to have to make a decision soon. Our local skate scene is a bit poor but the ones of us that skate everyday are very dedicated and always prioritize the fun side of skating. Luckily our local skate store Eightball helps the scene out as best as they can by giving discounts to all the locals, and before COVID were always trying to organize events and local contests to keep the motivation going. Eightball Store is the best. ?
And your parents are British, but moved around a bit before settling where you are now – what decided them on the place? And where do you think you would move to if you had the option to try anywhere?
My parents are both British, yes. They met in Italy near where we live now and my brother and I were born in New York. After two or three years we moved to Belgium for my parents’ work and then to Italy because it reminded them of when they met. If I could choose to live anywhere I would go to a city, because I’m sick of fields haha. Barcelona, London or LA sound more than amazing so hopefully one day, fingers crossed.
Do you think that growing up in a small town makes you more restless and keen to hit the road? I know it did for me – getting on the bus or train feels like an escape still, even now I live in a city.
Yeah for sure, up until a year ago I was living in a house in the middle of a hill and the closest skateable place was half an hour away on a moped. I always try to go to all the events possible in Italy, I really don’t mind taking four or five hour trains or buses as long as I’m going to a decent skate location!
Some trawling through your Instagram informed me that, a couple of years ago, you travelled to NYC where you were born. Was that a family trip, a skating trip, or a combination?
I visited New York a couple of years ago on holiday with my family. We all lived there when my brother and I were born and moved away shortly after, so we thought it could be a nice idea as we’d never been back (I did especially because of skating there haha.)
I also saw an old part which included a few London clips; how many times have you visited the UK, and have you seen much of it outside of the capital?
I used to visit London about once a year when my grandma lived there, but after she passed I only visited London if I was going to stay with my childhood friend that I grew up skating with and we were just too busy skating the city to go on trips outside of the capital.
So what have some of your favourite skate locales been in the city?
I really love the skating scene in London, it’s just so easy and quick to move around and the city is full of skateparks to warm up at and then go street skating. I like all the spots in London, I like that the flat isn’t perfect, the weather isn’t always good but at least it’s always cool (at least when it isn’t raining haha). I’m affectionate towards Southbank because I’ve had some of the funnest sessions ever there with friends. I really just love street skating there, I don’t mind which spot and I would usually try to go to at least three a day but my favorites have to be Canada Water and St. Paul’s area.
Moving on from skating, but sticking with the theme of your hometown, what three things would you recommend to visitors to Bassano Del Grappa?
Haha there aren’t really many reasons to move here, but if you’re visiting Bassano Del Grappa the main attraction is it’s stunning city center by the River el Brenta with its famous Ponte Vecchio (translates as ‘Old Bridge’). Other than that just the drinking culture and the passion people put into alcohol haha, just don’t visit during COVID curfew times.