Where did you grow up and what got you into skateboarding?
I grew up in Randpark Ridge, just outside Randburg (JHB). Adrian (Day) was from the same area. There were these English guys who lived up the road from me. They all had boards. That was about 1987 and I remember them skating outside their driveway, no one had walls around their properties back then. I used to stand and watch them while I was riding my BMX. They had a video box in their garage and they used to watch Animal Chin all the time. Then when I was about 10 my parents sent me to these math classes called WIZZ LAB. Everyone worked on these huge computers with green screens and all, thinking back those things were just huge calculators. This older guy sat next to me who was punk as fuck… I think he used to skate there because he always had a huge board with him with loads of tip ex slogans all over it like Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Sub Society and Santa Cruz (Maybe that’s why my math is still so bad to this day…), I think it all came from there. Strangely enough my brother nailed some dishwasher wheels to a plank in the garage at that time… I wish I still had that thing – he had no idea what he did. Plus obviously watching Marty Mcfly skate in the opening scene to the first “Back To The Future” movie… I used to rewind that scene all the time. Well since then I wanted to ride on those wheels…
I met Adrian years later behind the Rand Ridge mall. He was a real bad ass with MC hammer drop crotch pants on and shit (I have to comment that I was wearing canary yellow jean baggies and electric blue GOTCHA hooded tops and CROSS COLOUR stuff – I was well into hip hop back then and very religious).
Adrian smoked, hanged around some badass kids and had been expelled from about two schools at that stage. He could also ollie 13 bricks stacked up on top of each other. He also rocked some peewee champ trophies just like Bod has at his place. (Obviously the story of Bod will continue later in this story…) To my 15-year-old Christian Afrikaans mind Adrian just did not give a fuck. Looking back a lot of him rubbed off on me back then. Even though he was younger than me he made me realize that something else was going on. I still consider him a very close friend to this day even though we don’t see each other that much anymore. We still believe in the same things.
So we became this crew of some sorts that hanged out behind this mall on Saturdays… Brett Shaw was there too! Brett used to write Adrian letters from the States and we used to read the letters he sent him, about his stories on his travels over there (one letter I remember clearly he included a picture he drew of his ear and where he had his piercing done at the top of it…) It was mid Grunge times. It was pretty gnarly – I will never forget that letter – I read it twice – it was a whole new world to me… Brett also built an illegal park at the back of Rand Ridge Mall, ask Ockie, this man nailed 8 inch nails into a cement floor with half ramps stolen from the old LOOK AHEAD park in Sandton… how do you fuck with that? The poor bastard just finished the army and he hung out with us. It was Ockie, Hennie, myself, Shaun, Ian Alexander Smith (the one and only), Brett, Jason, Simon and his brother, Tony and fucking Barry! It was some of the best times of my life. All we did was skate waxed curbs, banks and the three steps at the post office all day long and do pressure flip variations… super tech and super low with 32mm wheels.
How did you get the nickname ST(E)AK?
Dan Olson – Danny fucking Olson was from the States. I think his parents where missionaries or something. Thinking back now he had a weird relationship with Jesus, Acid and skateboarding. Him and Brandon Marsh used to hang out a lot. That was about 1993 and we all used go to this club called White Horse Inn. Dan was studying at Damelin with me at the time. That dude used to rip me off loads, him and Marsh. Marsh used to call me clutch plate, bone head… and then one day came STEAK FARM NO IDEA which was a piss take on my name (Stefan Naude) and that was it really. After that it became just ‘Steak’. It changed to Snake for a while when I puked on Guy and Mike’s carpet and covered it up with a poster on the floor. Then when I did my first paintings in London I signed it ST(E)AK – The brackets are a tip of the hat to the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Did skateboarding influence your art direction?
Completely – I was watching that documentary called “The man who souled the world” the other day about Steve Rocco. That whole era was the time we were influenced the most in skateboarding. We worshipped Big Brother magazine and everything it stood for. All those early competitive advertising and personal jokes that the business of skating was built around at that time were hilarious. Andy Howell and the original New Deal graphics also had a big influence on me. I used to copy every single skate logo religiously, over and over.
You’ve got a pacemaker, is listening to so much SLAYER a good idea? How often do you have to get them replaced?
SLAYER and my heart. I think the combination of SLAYER and my pacemaker actually keeps me alive today. I listen to at least one SLAYER track every day of my life. I was born with a very rare heart disease which they only found out about when I was 19. My life changed drastically after that, even though I’m not sure if it was all for the good. I’m 35 now and I have had 4 pacemakers, spent 2 months in the Groote Schuur Hospital while they were trying to kill a hospital virus which I picked up while I was getting a replacement at the Joburg General a few months earlier. I lied to my parents signing off papers stating that I had a 40% chance of surviving the operation.
When they switch off your heart when you are 19 and you are still awake… no one prepares you for that. “God” is not there and you realize that “God” never was there. I wake every morning knowing that I have survived another day. I make my own heart beat. I push my own boundaries.
A lot of kids remember you from when you used to present the Session VCD’s news section, how did you get conned into doing that or did you want to do them?
I had no fucking choice! Well Clint came up with the idea when he started AVSkateboarding. He always said to me he would like me to read the skateboarding news or something like that in the vein of Riaan Cruyvagen in a Dutchman accent and all that. Well then the SESSION VCD started shortly after that. I was editor of STAGE music magazine at that time and we were all in the same office… it was chaos! Ask Dave Morrison, he will tell you all about it. So I was either very stressed out or high when it had to be done. I was trying to focus on the music magazine and then all of a sudden I had to be a newsreader… I have not seen those clips in a long time. It was a really bad time in my life and I’m still trying to shake some of the repercussions…
You’re currently staying in Durban, how is that going? Do you ever miss living in Johannesburg?
Durban has been really good to me… I have moved around a lot in the last 5 years and I never know where I’m gonna end up next. It’s been like I’m on the hunt for something… It’s something internal. I don’t miss Johannesburg at all. I mean I grew up there and I had a lot of good times there but I would not go back there. I know what it’s about. I wanted to go to Durban. I had never been to Durban much before now but when I went there in March last year I went and stayed with Dallas and I just really felt like I needed to come and hang out here for a while. It won’t be permanent. It’s kind of like a truck stop on the way to somewhere else. Like the lyrics to “Cities” by the Talking Heads on “Fear of music”
“I’m checking them out
I’m checking them out
I got it figured out
I got it figured out
There’s good points and bad points
Find a city
Find myself a city to live in.”
The next place will be the island of Reunion which I have had an obsession over for a couple of years now. I hooked up with a good friend of mine recently who said that I should get my ass back to Europe. Thinking back, I should have never come back to South Africa when I was 26.
Do you currently own a skateboard and if so how often do you cruise around?
I can still ride a board like the wind. No tricks, just skating and I love that. Loads of guys I used to skate with when I was younger have completely stopped because they said they feel like idiots trying to do tricks when younger kids are busting out all sorts of shit. I just like riding that thing, you could nail wheels on any piece of wood and I would ride it. I go about once a week to the beachfront here and just cruise around.
How many times have you committed Facebook suicide and why does Facebook hate you so much?
Fuck – that shit came back to haunt me a few times. I did it about two months after I joined FB, when it just started in 2007. It was meant to be a bar joke that went a bit too far. I decided to stage an online suicide within a social network as a sort of conceptual art piece. I withdrew myself from all my friends at the time by deleting them off one by one and then at the end I deleted my page off the network. The thing was that I was going to resurrect myself three days later and claim the status of online Jesus… but then I just lost interest in the whole thing and stayed off FB for a couple of years. As far as I know I was the first person to commit online suicide.
The local trash paper ‘Die Son’ (The Sun) wrote a piece on it called “Facebook Satan lei tot man se kuber selfmoord” (Facebook Satan leads to mans online death). It was pretty silly but people take that shit pretty seriously. There is no online Jesus yet as far as I know so I reckon it should be my duty to take on that role in the future.
Are you currently working on any new art at the moment?
I have been doing a lot of illustrations in red ink using brush and calligraphy pen at the moment and then also doing some conceptual pieces at the place where I work here in Durban. The conceptual thing is brand new to me and I have really been enjoying working with big objects and arranging them. The first one I did was a tip of the hat to the artist Jeff Wall and his piece “The destroyed room” which was also used for the Sonic Youth “B sides and rarities” album.
Give us some of your favorite album artworks of all time.
These are also some of my favorite albums to listen to.
You are also known for doing the No Dogs Body articles in Session Magazine. How did you come up with the concept for it and can we expect any in the future?
Ok – No DOGS BODY is not completely original. There is this comic called RED MEAT and a lot of it stems from there. Before NO DOGS, I used to do a similar comic called HERO IN, all of which disappeared when Bod decided to delete everything on my hard drive one day (but that’s another story for another day) basically NO DOGS is Brendan B Body and the character was stolen from a FUCKD ad and I just duplicated the eyes and changed the mouth and nose. The term “No Dogs Body” is from “God save the Queen” the song by the Sex Pistols which was one of the tracks me and Bod used to listen to on repeat when the first issues of Session were put out. To me it always meant NO BODY and it could mean that in Cockney… but back then nobody really liked it it I think and we had some letters of complaint from readers telling me how crap it was, so we stopped running them. Then Adrian asked me to revive it for a series of graphics for Familia. It was hard doing it at first because I was in a very different mindset back then, when I did it a couple of years ago. I have been thinking of reviving it properly but it would be more in a political context I think.
As a public enemy fan, How psyched were you to see Chuck D rap the lyrics to “Black steel in the Hour of Chaos” whilst holding the No Dogs Body board graphics you created for Familia skateboards?
With all those graphics, besides the “Metal God” one, I ran out of ideas. Sometimes my mind doesn’t work that well and I really wanted to do something that stood for the brand and reflect DOGS, so I picked song lyrics. Eric Koston skated to a version of “Black steel in the hour of chaos” in the video “Duck Cinema” performed by Tricky who covered the song, changing its name to “Black Steel”, on his debut album Maxinquaye released in 1995. The stripped down rap sound of the original (which includes samples of Isaac Hayes and Stevie Wonder) is replaced by pounding drums and guitars. Martina Topley-Bird sings the lyrics instead of rapping. It’s better than the original because of the female vocals so it really got to me. You know what, just download that fucking song right now.
The original song back then hit me hard because it was so anti government, especially with the white government we still had in the 80s and early 90s. Chuck D was against the US and SA governments back then and when I listened to the song again I realized that this song now more than ever stands for all people in South Africa who are not happy with what is going on at the top. So when he says in the clip on Youtube that it stands for “any government”, I felt that I had understood the song correctly, it was universal. It was very emotional for me to see him rap with the board in his hands. Chuck D and Public Enemy changed my way of thinking when I was 13 years old, secretly listening to Gangsta rap in my good Christian home. The best part of all is that I had no idea they were going to tour here when I did the graphic. It’s still one of the most outspoken political songs of all time for me. It’s very relevant to what is happening in our country’s politics right now.
JJ Harris hooked that shit up man! I couldn’t believe it. The thing is, Adrian must have waited almost a year for those graphics but it all came out spot on.
Ice T or Ice Cube?
Look I love them both. When it comes to Cube you cannot fuck with “Kill at will” and “Death certificate”. Those two albums for me sum up how far NWA could have gone… It also defines Cube as a poet, public observer and anarchist. Now when it comes to T it’s just T – “ICE MOTHER FUCKING T!”
Motley Crue or Skid Row?
Ok… Motley Crue. I have never been the biggest fan of them. In fact, I gave a near mint condition Dr Feel Good record to Rocco in Durban (brown paper bag and all). I do like some of their hits like “Shout at the Devil” and my all time favorite “Home sweet Home”. But, that cock rock shit never really appealed to me. LA glam rock – when it comes to rocking a party these guys were definitely on it but they were very vain… very vain. Too much make up and shit.
Skid Row… Christ. Look you cannot really compare Motley Crues’ 80 million records to Skid’s 20 million. Naturally I will go with the under dog but in this case I think they are shit. They were riding the coat tails of cock rock when they came out with that debut album “Skid Row” in 1989. I mean Motley was snorting ants with Ozzy on tour on their second album in 83. So you do the math.
Biggie or Tupac?
When these two jokers came out… I had had it up to here with all that East / West shit. Hip Hop was really losing its tits. Every one seemed to have forgotten about the “Daisy Age” of Hip Hop which really captured the true and artistic nature of the medium. The Native Tongue Family embraced all of that.
I never got big into Biggie mumbling a long to some over produced beats. Tupac was a much better rapper from my point of view. There was a track on the first DJ Shadow album “Endtroducing” called – Why Hip Hop sucks in 96. That’s basically when hip hop died in my eyes.
Best metal album of all time?
Any debate on something remotely close to the best of anything could include getting stabbed by your best mate with a rusty spoon, in the parking lot. There are some solid choices out there but deep in my heart there would only be one album. The band called Budgie and their album called “Never turn your back on a friend”, including the track “Breadfan”. I will get your coat. Budgie formed in 1967 in Cardiff, Wales under the name Hills Contemporary Grass. I mean Cardiff of all places. Christ, I love Sabbath, I love Sabbath more than life itself but Budgie coined it, they coined the future of speed metal and everything that keeps my heart beating after a bottle and a half of vodka.
Funniest thing you have seen Bod do on a night out?
Brendan B Body. You see there is a bit of history involved in all this, the first time I met Bod I was 16 and he was sitting in the garden of the afore mentioned White Horse Inn. He was wearing 90 shorts (that was some hot shit back then), a sterling new green (I think) Plan B cap (straight peak even back then) and a pair of black and white Airwalk ONEs which nobody had seen at all. The fucker told me that he had been skating with Danny Way in the states. I believed all that shit until Guy De Villiers told me this dude is just having it!
So that’s how I met Bod, he used to drive a white 87 Audi called “Wit Blitz”. The “rebel rouge” as he fondly refers to himself. I think I can consciously say that I have seen it all when it comes to Bod. I reckon when he falls asleep standing up, that’s the best one… it’s a modern social phenomena. I have never seen anybody else who can do that. It’s actually pretty cool when that happens because you can literally just leave him right there on the spot for a few hours without him harassing some dude or an unsuspecting young female.
Any last words?
Don’t believe the hype!