SAM McKINLAY on the Nobodys video (by kyle shura, c.1997) interview by sandro grison
An enigma amongst the wise in Canada's skateboarding community, Sam McKinlay was, and pretty much is still today the last rolling survivor of the original guard of Kelowna skaters from the mid 80s. He entered the Nobodys video (by Kyle Shura c.1997) as first part with a distinctive style and trick selection that most of us "new school" kids only respected. At the time of this video I had only come to know Sam a little bit, using his skate shop, "S&M" (co-owned with his brother, Mike McKinlay) as a refuge during the winter months. Some might have been introduced to Sam along with other fellow "Mains" in the 1990 issue of TWS where he and other skaters in Kelowna such as Sandy Plotnikoff gained coverage by none other than Spike Jonze. The town has spawned an excess of talent through the years, but only Sam has been there to see and influence it all. I got to talk to him a bit about that and what it was like filming for this video nobody ever really got to see until now. Most of the skater's around today don't know who Kyle Shura is, but anyone worth a damn (Russ Milligan, Moses Itkonen, Tony Ferguson, Russ Milligan...) skating in Vancouver around 2001 was probably photographed with him. Little to nobody would know him as a filmer. Kyle was around all the time. He skated quite a bit back then - I remember teaching him how to skate the half barriers. He was really in to abstract skateboarding, like ollieing straight / 90 degree angle onto a low flatbar and stalling over and over as a session. Fucking killer that he was an ex-squash champion as well. I remember him really taking to camerawork and being good at what he did. Your brother Mike and yourself had a skate shop back then that moved around a bit. At this time I think it was in the back of “Cop Out” Records. Did this have any influence on your music selection for your part? S&M was doing well until that fire downtown. By the time we were behind Cop-Out, we were just trying to pay the bills, but were still having a good time being right downtown across from the lake and the sails.Cop-Out acted as the opposite music-wise actually.What they played we avoided like the plague. Their store was during the first onslaught of the pop punk takeover that resulted in what we all know as mall punk now. When I worked for them occasionally, playing BIG BLACK loudly all the time bummed out many aspiring 'good times' mall punks. Your clothing style, while tame, was like nobody else I’d known or seen at the time. Did you wear those same tight shorts and black socks in the winter? I am STILL just copying anything that Matt Hensley was wearing at the time. I think that was around the time he had one of his first comeback interviews in Heckler.I'm wearing the same outfit. I still tuck my chain wallet into my pocket, wear docs, and have my first pair of exact Hensely replica army shorts from the day. There’s a couple barrier tricks in your part. Was this the earliest footage of your barrier skating released to video? Does it have anything to do with the Barrier Kult? The old Kelowna skate natives had always ridden barriers since the original mid 80s Island Snow team days.They were always seen as a go-to tight quaterpipe to have a session on. The Barrier Kult is all about obsession, and I can definitely see where their apprecation lies as the barrier is the ultimate replica of an altar style shallow end of a pool. Filming probably started a year or two after the Trinity Church Ramps were torn down. Did you prefer Trinity over the skinny 8ft wide, 6ft high ramp you skate in your part? The steel layered church mini ramp was great and acted as a bloody good shelter from the ZMB ledge days. It was nice to always have the option of a huge mini ramp with a spine, and the nights there were fucking EPIC.That ramp that was tucked behind the building featured in the video was killer. Reminded me of the first backyard halfpipe I ever skated which was in around 1985; just take away the masonite, platforms, some of the flat bottom, and add a foot and a half of vert. Your grabs are tweaked beyond recognition at some points in your part. Are you still able to skate like that now, 12 years later? The last time I was trying/doing that shit was a few years ago with Derek Serwa and Danny Marshall at the same pyramid in downtown Kelowna.I thought it would cool to try everything on a 7.75" wide popsicle with tiny Ventures, etc. I eventually landed one of 'everything' but not after some of MAJOR body slams and epic jeering from the peanut gallery. Ever since moving to Vancouver, 'ollies' and even 'airtime' has been slowly put completely to the wayside to make more room for slappies, tight transitions, concrete coping, tailblocks, and an 'endless grind' mentality. Is there anything else you remember about this time that you’d like to share. Anything you want to add? I think I'm the last of Kelowna's old guard/first generation from the mid 80s on that video. It would have been amazing if there was some moves on there from Sandy Plotnikoff, Tim Battersby, Keith Langergraber, Scott White, etc. I was purely just the last of the Pandosy Island Snow guys left in Kelowna.
Sam McKinlay has travelled the world as The Rita, performing harsh noise. He's also an avid horror film fan and collector of rare import genre films. He held a column in The Nerve magazine for many years, continuing to write for such publications as Cinema Sewer. Today you'll most likely find Sam managing the SKULL SKATES store, recording harsh noise, reading Clark Ashton Smith or some pre-code 50s horror comics, watching GRAVEYARD OF HORROR again, playing with my knives, or skating some obscure transition spot while obsessing about Motobilt trucks. He's undoubtedly a supporter of the Barrier Kult traditions of obsession, militance, ritual black arts structure, and anonymity of the human animal.
Check back next week when we look at Keith Yerex's part and weeks leading to Ryan Smith's first video part... the finale. Click here to view all Nobodys entries and check back every monday for additional parts.