Tom O’Driscoll is a skater and musician from Norwich who lives in Sheffield. His gnarly style of no holds barred skating first came to our attention when he Frontside Lipslided the rail at Fastlands in Birmingham, landing the first banger to go down at our Beyond Skateboarding jam there. So after skating with him then and later on in the streets of Sheffield, we ended up getting to know Tom and found out a lot more about him.
It turned out that unlike his clear ‘do first and think later approach’ to skating big street and transition spots he’s quite the opposite in conversation. He’s an extremely thoughtful and creative person off his board who makes interesting experimental electronic music, studies philosophy and is clearly heavily influenced and inspired by skaters, artists, musicians and creatives of all kinds from around the world.
On top of all of that, he also has some great opinions on the act of skateboarding itself.
So after finding out there was more about him, beyond the bangers he puts down on his board and watching his skating progress to even more elevated levels in each release of The Panasonic Youth videos, we thought over lockdown, it would be great to chat with him about his skateboarding, music, creativity and his personal approach to it all and as expected he had a lot to bring to the conversation.
By the end of our chat we were stoked that Tom was down to be a No Comply Network Member.
Read the Tom O’Driscoll interview to find out how he first saw skateboarding and thought it looked like a good fit, growing up as a young skater in Norwich, going to Drugstore, watching Chewy Cannon skate as a kid, making music, his latest tracks and releases, his thoughts on studying philosophy, moving to Sheffield, meeting Zach McAdam, joining The Panasonic Youth, making the soundtrack for their Gran Canaria trip, shredding Dev Green, Shaun Currie, Sex Skateboards, Louis Slater, art, video parts, Slugger, Heath Kirchart, getting sponsored by Ron Calow’s World Peace Machine his DJ gig on Noods radio, filming for Fully Fissured, skating in Birmingham, and his favourite skaters, spots, music, videos and photos of all-time and more.
Read the Tom O’Driscoll interview below to find out for yourself
When did you first get a skateboard and what brand was it?
My dad got me this No Fear skateboard from Sports Direct for a tenner. It had this eye full of veins with wings on it. The wheels exploded on impact one time when I was doing stationary Ollies. I think I was about 10 years old.
Jokes. Where did you first go skate and who was in your crew?
There wasn’t really a crew when I first started, but everyone would skate the playground after school.
A mate of mine called Otto had built some ramps that we used to skate round the back of his house.
When I got a bit older I’d say the proper crew was me, Malachi Smith, Olly Allen, Arthur Vaughn Myhill, Liam Painter and Callum Painter.
We skated together all the time at Gipsy Lane. There was the little City Hall crew too, people like Jack Garrett and Bigby, the NSE lot.
There were only a few places you could skate so most of the crews kinda meshed together a lot of the time.
What’s your favourite spot to skate in Norwich and why?
The Law Courts is probably my favourite spot that still exists. It’s so haggard, but it’s seen some great sessions.
Definitely one you have to see in real life to really appreciate the clips. A session there is either a total headblag or a lot of fun.
You live in Sheff now, what do you miss most about Norwich?
That’s a hard question. I guess old friends and my parents. I also miss the convenience of a small city.
I’d never ridden a bus till I came up north because you could walk or skate everywhere you wanted to get to in Norwich.
You can get to the beach pretty easily too. But we have the peaks here so I don’t mind too much.
Backside Nosegrind, East London: Shot by Rob Salmon
Did you ever skate with Chewy Cannon?
I’ve skated proximal to Chewy Cannon. It would be a lie to say I skated with him.
This one time me and my mate Jan were at the old Yarmouth indoor park and Chewy turned up.
We were like 14, fanning out that he was there and then Jan ate shit really hard in front of him, it was so peak.
Like, you’re a little kid and you finally get to see this next local legend pro guy everyone’s always on about, only to absolutely stack it while he’s watching. Chewy seemed concerned by it though, he asked if Jan was alright. That was nice of him.
Oh yeah and one time I got in Chewy’s way in Drugstore while he was trying to leave. It was awkward. I was maybe 13.
What’s your favourite Chewy Cannon trick done in Norwich?
Not sure I know any to be honest; most of the East Anglia footy I’ve seen of Chewy’s was in Lowestoft or Yarmouth.
I heard a rumour he did something switch down lucky star rail but I’ve never really gotten confirmation on that or seen any footage. A question for Spex.
When did you first go into Drug Store skate shop?
It’s always been the only place in Norwich you can get legit boards, hardware, gear, etc. So inevitably at some point I had to go in there and get a board.
My dad always used to prefer buying things from shops to buying them on the internet, so some of that rubbed off on me I guess.
Once you get over the initial terror of being in a skate shop, it suddenly becomes the only place you want to be. So yeah, I was there pretty much every weekend taking up space on the sofa and generally annoying Sam and other local people.
Probably the full length. Despite all the battles and setbacks there were some really good times and I think Zach did a great job bringing it all together. In general I always prefer working on sections for full videos.
The feeling you get when you start collecting footage you’re happy with, knowing it’s going towards something substantial, that’s kinda the best.
How did you first go into Slugger?
I needed a board after about a month or two living in Sheffield so I went in. They hadn’t moved yet so the shop was still in the forum. Niahll was working.
What’s the best thing about Slugger?
Martin Kenelley and Louis Slater are always trying to help people out and hook it up for people in the scene. It’s rad.
What’s it like living in Sheffield and what’s your favourite spot?
Yeah I like it here, feeling pretty comfortable now it’s been a while. I’ve never really liked the sound of the big city, and I also don’t want to live in some isolated village with nothing going on, so Sheffield is a nice happy medium. Plenty going on here but I don’t get overwhelmed.
Recently I think my favourite spot has been Crystal Peaks ledge. Random choice but yeah there’s been a few sessions there where it’s been beautiful evening sunshine and you can see the peaks in the distance.
You have all this open space with smooth ground all around you. That’s probably one of my favourite feelings. Rolling around with loads of space and smooth ground all around you.
What’s your favourite trick you’ve seen at Dev Green?
Albert Mu switch front shuv Dev Green two, no contest.
There are a lot of people that deserve a mention though.
Denver’s random tear this summer, Fakie Flip the three and Tre Flip the driveway, insane.
Moggins, Ben Broyd, Jerome Campbell, they’ve all killed it on Dev. But yeah Albert beats them all.
What’s it like skating with Shaun Currie at Dev Green?
The first few times I saw Shaun Currie skate in person felt pretty special to me.
Think most kids my age grew up seeing his footage and photos constantly. I was a huge fan for sure.
It’s been five years since I moved to Sheffield and we’ve skated together loads since then so it’s just normal now. But yeah 12 year old me would be tripping if he knew I’d end up skating Dev with Shaun all the time.
Do you have a favourite trick by Shaun Currie?
I had that Sidewalk Magazine photo of him doing a Kickflip Footplant on a school bench up on my bedroom wall in Norwich for years, so that one sticks out to me. Otherwise I guess it’d have to be his Brass Monkey Ender or the 270 flip at Shipman hip.
You skate street and ramps, what’s the best thing about that?
I guess it’s just good to have options if you want to be able to skate all the time. If all you skate is bowl and the local one floods what are you gunna do? I can’t skate transition for shit anyways.
What’s the best thing about skating handrails for you?
Why do you like to throw hippy jumps into your skating?
They’re fun and don’t really require much focus, you just lob yourself and hopefully land back on.
I always joke that it’s a gimmick trick. If it is, I do bare gimmicks.
What music you listen to growing up?
My dad used to play Jimmy Cliff a lot and he’s always been really into John Martyn and Van Morrison.
All the middle class parent favourites like Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell. The first CD I got was Dookie by Green Day.
I have a mate called Will Sanders who basically shaped my entire music taste through secondary school. He got me really into Rustie when I was in year 9.
Do you DJ mostly, or make tunes yourself?
I don’t really DJ. I make music yeah.
What kinds of music do you make?
At the moment I do whatever I fancy. Over the first lockdown I was making a lot of ambient and instrumental stuff.
The house I just moved out of had a bass guitar left there by the previous tenants so I was using that and borrowing my housemate’s electric guitar to make guitar music for a while, that was sick. More recently I’ve been playing around with dance music and making beats.
What music have you been listening to recently?
So I just moved house and we didn’t have internet set up for the first few weeks which was actually quite nice because it meant I ended up digging out a bunch of my old favourites from my record collection.
Was listening to a lot of SD Laika, Kate Bush, Klein, William Basinski, Dean Blunt.
Since having internet again I’ve been listening to David Shawty constantly, Evergreen, Loveliescrushing, the new Salem album. Loads of stuff.
Plus Dad’s about to give me his old Walkman too so I can go back through my tape collection which will be really sick.
You’ve got a DJ gig on NOODS radio. How did that come about and what types of music do you play in your sets?
I’ve been lucky enough to do guest shows for two of my friends who have Noods residencies, Gabriel Gifford and Evan Majumdar Swift (96Back). Hopefully I’ll get to do another sometime.
For these radio mixes I tend to try and play the biggest variety I can manage. It feels to me like with radio you have that freedom, whereas if you’re playing a club or an event, you need to do something way more coherent.
You studied Philosophy. What are the benefits of thinking about the world in that way?
I guess for me the best thing about doing a philosophy degree was having those three years set aside to chew over stuff that I’ll probably never get to think about that deeply ever again.
Studying philosophy helps you get better at seeing through bad arguments and rhetoric, as well as teaching you how to make good arguments. I feel like I’m harder to convince now, one of many ways in which my degree has made me a more irritating person.
I also reckon philosophy helps give you a little more perspective on the things that really matter.
You made the music for a Cassette soundtrack of The Panasonic Youth Gran Canaria trip. How did you come up with that idea?
Zach always has to try and find music that hasn’t been skated to and won’t get pulled from YouTube for copyright.
He hit me up asking if I had anything he could use. I’d been making a bunch of guitar music that worked pretty well for a skate vid. So that was that.
Why did you decide on cassettes and not downloadable mp3s?
Zach and I both like buying tapes and records; I definitely prefer to own physical copies of releases that I really care about.
Zach just threw the idea out of making a tape and I thought it sounded cool. It was a nice way of rounding off that video and commemorating the trip with a physical thing rather than having these disembodied files floating around online.
What are your thoughts on creativity, skating and music?
It’s essential in both.
Which creatives in skateboarding do you look up to?
I really like Alexis Jamet’s art, the airbrush stuff is dope.
In general I think I probably have the most respect for people like Liam and Callum Painter because they make amazing stuff off their own backs while working full time and having their own lives and shit. It’s very impressive. It’s good to look up to people you know I think.
You came to our Beyond Skateboarding jam at Fastlands and ripped, why did you come down that day?
Thanks man. We came because Pete said we had good odds of getting free gear. Nah just kidding.
We came because the jam sounded like a good time and Pete said Birmingham had spots.
That was my first time there. We had a sick day, thanks for putting the event on.
What was your favourite trick at that jam?
Pete’s Switch Heel down the big set. Always good to see someone win a battle.
Plus he’d really only just started getting into skating big stuff at that point so it seemed really ambitious. His rate of progression is alarming.
You did a sick Nollie Hardflip into the bank. Who has your favourite Nollie Hardflip and why?
Me and Frank have been filming and skating together for about four years now.
We basically haven’t stopped filming together the entire time I’ve known him, plus I was in his last vid (Fissure Time).
There was no way I wasn’t gunna have a part in this one.
Favourite trick to film for People Move With Their Hands?
I think it was probably the Wallride crook at Hospital Banks.
The trick felt really good so I didn’t mind doing it a few times to see how good I could get it. It’s nice when you can give your filmer/editer options to choose from. It was super sunny and warm that day.
Pete was crending over a trick and me and Harry were just sat laughing and having beers. It was a great experience all round.
You did a sick tre flip into the massive fountain flatbank in Birmingham Town Hall. How did that go down?
Thank you! Pete had suggested we go filming in Brum and Frank was keen to drive. We ended up at Birmingham town hall because Pete wanted to do the Switch Heel Fakie manny.
He got that pretty quickly, so then after all the randoms got done sitting on the spot I had a go at the Tre Flip and eventually one went right. Still a little bummed on the way I adjust my feet when I’m rolling down but I guess it doesn’t ruin the clip.
Outside of music, do you have any other creative pursuits?
Yeah I do a lot of drawing, I’ve tried painting and photography, and sometimes I’ll write bits and pieces.
I’m trying to get into reading books more regularly but it’s long and I’m lazy.
Other than that I’m talking to a few friends about collaborating on some music which hopefully will go somewhere interesting.
As far as videos go I guess the main one right now is the world peace promo, but I’m also working on stuff with Zach for PY.
I might get to make some music for those but I’m not sure at the moment. Albert says he’s making a video so I’m trying to get clips for that.
I’ve filmed a bunch with Vlad and Liam for a Norwich scene video. Danny Jackson is putting out a new thing which I should have clips in too. Lots of things on the boil at the moment really.
Any upcoming releases you would like to mention?
Rosahoez album three coming this year, it’s gunna be called ‘I forgive you for party rocking’.
I’ve also done some bits with 96Back which should come out sometime this year, not sure how much I can tell you about that though as there’s actually labels and shit involved and I don’t wanna piss anyone off
I’ve seen it so many times. It was that video I saw at the age when everything was still new and crazy and I was so sure that’s what skating was supposed to be like. Funny to think how different things are now. It’s a good one to watch before bed, I find it very comforting.