Fellow Polar Skate Co, Volcom and Vans Europe rider Jeroen Bruggeman has banged out a quick part for us along with an interview for y’all to enjoy. You might remember Jeroen’s productivity in our Vans – CARNAL video and his Jacky part. That man Jono Coote conducted the interview for this one which you can read below alongside some photos shot by Bram De Ridder and Pim Notebaert. Big thanks to our Benelux distributor of the mag Jean Jaques Distribution for their contributions and help with this article. Have a read below!
Introduction & Interview by: Jono Coote
Sometimes the innate restlessness which to a greater or lesser extent resides within all of us, that urge to follow the vagaries of weather and the winds of change, pulses so strong it almost hurts. The road beckons, the grass gleams emerald in the distance and we read signs and portents in those facets of everyday life which, once mere chores, suddenly become weighted down with foreboding and misery; that unspeakable abyss of the mundane producing a primal need to flee, one which must be heeded at all costs, one which is seemingly hardwired into the grey matter of most skateboarders. The chicken/egg sociological deconstruction of this is one which can wait for another time, but it is safe to say that those who can harness these urges are the ones who have aligned themselves consistently, whether by accident or through conscious effort, with the swirling eddies of the cosmos.
Jeroen Bruggeman is a skater well attuned to the harmonic shifts of life on the road. An ability to get by and find a place to stay in an unfamiliar country, with no phone and no directions? Not a problem. Camping trip across three US states with no tent? There’s always a way. This innate survival mechanism doesn’t, of course, extend to possessions, so an original plan to conduct this interview via WhatsApp was quickly scaled down to an email back and forth with assistance from Jean Jaques Distribution’s Ben Daeleman.
I don’t think Jeroen was too confident of being able to vocalise as well in writing what he could during the more natural back and forth of a phone chat; but, as is so often the way, those who think they have little to say have way more of interest to impart than those wanting to talk your ear off; and, with Jeroen’s travels taking him across the globe over the past couple of years, I knew that there was plenty for us to cover. Alongside the clip which should sit nestled amongst this text, he has also put out another full part and had a number of clips in the Vans Belgium ‘Carnal’ video in the last few months alone. Stacking that many clips isn’t easy during a Northern European winter, but then this is the time when the road most enticingly beckons, and when those who can heed the call with gusto. Madrid, Switzerland, Paris, London and the West Coast of the US; an intricate web of frontside grinds, connections formed and tepid tuna…
Team Trouble seems to go off every year really hard, for those who don’t know can you tell us a bit about how it works?
It’s the best event I know; nice place, lovely people, good vibes, I even got it tattooed on me last time I went. It’s unlike most contests, you have to work together as a team and do doubles together. There’s cash for various challenges, including doubles, best trick and more. The first time I went there was a highest air event and the second it was a combination longest stalled handplant and most handplants challenge – Ben Broyd got the first and I got the second. The next year was longest grind if I’m not wrong. It’s just the best time with friends, having some beers and a good time!
I clocked the Lower Bob’s and Burnside clips on your part as well, how was it skating those legendary DIY spots? Any interesting stories from the road out there? Plenty of weird shit happened when we drove through Oregon and Washington…
It was really mind blowing for me how big everything is; from the Coca Colas to the cars to the HUGE skateparks, I found it pretty intimidating. We landed in Seattle and the first thing we did was cross the water to Orcas Island, a real beautiful place with a crazy skatepark – the biggest one I had seen when I got there, so a good one to start off with as it opened my eyes how the rest of the trip was gonna be. We found a place to sleep, camping outside the house of a guy we met on the boat to the island. Then we went back to Seattle to go see the Grindline Skateparks office with the huge vert and to see the two bowls at Mark Hubbard’s house. It was pretty sad because he had passed pretty recently. Bruno from Concrete Dreams knew him personally and was inspired by him to build parks in Belgium and beyond.
I can’t begin to tell you how many gnarly parks we went to in Oregon, there were so many we woke up at six in the morning to do two or three in a day. Productive days I must say, I’m not used to waking up early next to a crazy park and skating it for breakfast until we move on to the next one. I slept in the van as I didn’t have a tent with me, even though I knew we were going to be camping all the time. We met Donovan Rice who skated with us and told us where to go.
Burnside was real magic! You can feel the energy there, that was one of the best sessions of my life. We slept there which the locals found pretty crazy. They told us it’s been years since a bunch of skaters arrived and did that. I put my hammock over one tight corner to feel safe but it was a mission to get in it and when I did I had to piss so bad, but was too wasted to get out of it without falling.
Down in California we skated Lower Bob’s which was my favourite place, there were nice people, we got to BBQ at that beautiful place with memorial names in mosaic tiles. We had a really good time and wanted more there. In Oakland we skated an empty pool which was the first time for me, it wasn’t easy but it was such a good feeling. We skated hills too, and everyone ate shit on the Twin Peaks one.
Oh and we met Wheatberry! He was dragging a big metal closet at Potrero Park towards the deep end of the bowl, and when he put it up there one of the locals instantly flew out of the bowl to axle bash and went back in, that was crazy! The second time we met him he was screaming “BELGIUM!!!” He snapped his board and gave it to us, telling us “This is going to Belgium” haha.
Haha that’s fucking rad. Donovan was our Portland tour guide too, what a legend!
Talking of Hubbard influencing Concrete Dreams, it’s safe to say that Belgium has one of the best skatepark and DIY scenes in Europe – the Concrete Dreams crew have played a massive part in that and can’t be praised enough. How much did those guys building Mechelen and all those other gnarly skateparks influence your skateboarding?
They really had everything to do with my skating. I have an indoor vert ramp close to my house, at Rampaffairz Skatepark, and I was too scared to drop in there until Pieter (De Clus) made me do it at Mechelen. The way they make parks really fits me and how I want to skate – I like transition skating so much because of them.
And now you’re getting flowed Polar product through Jean Jaques, as well as skating for Vans and Volcom, right? How did you meet up with the Jean Jaques crew, and how did those other two hook ups come about?
I’d travel two hours on the train almost every day one summer to skate Mechelen DIY. I became good friends with Pieter De Clus, I think I was 17 and he was 16 and he had just gotten on Jean Jaques at the time. He introduced me to Ben, who once we got to know each other a little better asked me to ride for Jean Jaques too if Jarne (Verbruggen) approved. He called Jarne and he said it was good! The Polar deal came about because I was the person who wanted it less…so he gave it to me haha, he could explain that better.
Ben of Jean Jaques: Yeah, it’s like Jeroen said; He came along with Pieter a lot, always together like they were a married couple. I already knew he was rippin but Pieter was the one talking to me about him. Jarne is our TM so we talked for, like, 10 seconds about it, then put him in the JJ family. After that I got to know him better and he is one of those kids that only wants to skate – that’s all, nothing more. He doesn’t care about the whole sponsorship circus and that mentality is more important to me than being super good at skateboarding. Jeroen has it, so I really wanted to offer him a good deal, and we needed a rider for Polar Belgium back then so it all came together with perfect flow. I want to say to all the kids who love skateboarding, just skate and love it. That’s it!
Jeroen: As for the Vans deal, I can thank my good friend Jonathan Vlerick who I’ve known since I was a little kid skating Rampaffairz indoor park. He taught me to skate and introduced me to Dominique De Vreese, the Belgium TM for Vans, who I also quickly became good friends with. Volcom is pretty much the same story – Ben and Jonathan both put in good words for me, I went skating with the Volcom TM Christian Vankelst and we had a good time.
It was Pieter I first met you with as well, at Bloblands – how did that trip come about, and what are some of your favourite London spots? Have you travelled anywhere else in the UK?
That trip was really unplanned; we had no sleeping place, no camping stuff, we just took our shit and left with a small backpack. We met Taylor Jones and spent a big part of the trip at his house, which saved us big time! He was really friendly and made us feel welcome, we had some great sessions with him. We also spent time with Alex Diss at his place, he lives near Saffron Walden where there’s that sick park with the pool coping bowl – I liked that one a lot. Crystal Palace and the big DIY made by BMXers are both great. I really don’t know a lot of names of places, but locals showed me around and showed me all the good stuff.
The year after that trip we went back. Pieter went home after a week or something and I was going to stay and try to find a sleeping place on my own but then I lost my phone. I was pretty stressed to be alone and with no GPS, but I figured out how to get to House of Vans in London where I knew Tom Moatti worked. I saw his girlfriend there and she told me to be at Stockwell in the evening to link up. He took me in for a few weeks together with Brendan Watson and we had so much fun – living super cheap, only eating food out of cans which we made hot with that tuna fish trick where you get a can of tuna, put some tissues on it and light it on fire. It burns for a long time and cooks the fish and heats the can on top. Brendan taught me that, it’s a good one to try but it has to be with sunflower oil!
Your recent video part seemed a proper crew effort to put together, with various homies on filming and editing duties. Who helped out with this one, and who do you want to give props to as we wrap this up?
This video was for a big part filmed by Ratman. He had his VX with him on our trip through America and took the time to film us and get us the footage, which i’m grateful for! Ben Daeleman and Gabriel Borges filmed the rest.
Bruno was the driver with the van and knew where the good stuff was, plus Ratman made a list of good shit to skate. The editing is by Hakeem Osmanu and the music by some good friends of ours, Opium Heathen, with Ralf Goosens and Mel Pirquin from Mechelen. Thanks to all of you for your efforts and everyone else for the good vibes and fun times. Big love to all of you.
JEROEN_:) Video Part