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Tandem: John Rattray and Keegan Sauder

May 28, 2013

The physics major from Scotland and the former figure skater from Nelson sit down to discuss their relationship as teammates and friends.

 

Tandem
John Rattray and Keegan Sauder

Spring 2013 Issue
Interviews and portraits by Jeff Thorburn

They make for a colourful pair, the physics major from Scotland and the former figure skater from Nelson. From biking across New Zealand together, sharing hotel rooms all over the world, skating parks through the day and handrails through the night, Keegan Sauder and John Rattray have developed quite a friendship. Following a conversation between the two requires a sharp (or tweaked) mind, so we sat them down separately to speak candidly about one another. –Jeff Thorburn

Keegan Sauder, Kickflip. Zaslavsky photo

John Rattray on Keegan Sauder:

What did you know about Keegan before first meeting him?
I knew that he was friendly with friends of mine in Vancouver.

Had you seen a photo or video of him that still stands out to you?
His Body Jar over the hip at Hastings wearing a wolf mask stands out. He’s good at Body Jars.

Tell me about the first time you met Keegan. Did you play any role in him ultimately ending up as your teammate on Zero?
I met him on the set of the short film Of Wolf and Limb, a Corey Adams and Alex Craig collaborative project. We specifically met at a hotel in East Hastings. As for him getting on Zero, Jamie said he was looking to put someone else on that was an all-around skater. He already had Keegan in mind, and I was obviously backing that; being his friend, it made sense to me.

What is your relationship like these days? How often do you talk or see one another?
We keep in touch; I’ve got a list of text messages here between us:

“The Predatory Bird videos are amazing”
“I have something for you.”
“AK 420, the stickiest of the icky?”
------------
“The pigeons here have black heads and are smaller, but still very bold.”
“Very bold and louder than Metallica.”
“They’re laughing at us.”
“The walk to Starbucks in Trenton, NJ, is much gnarlier than Indianapolis.”
“Mac trucks made of smoke off the shoulder of sidewalk-less roads.”
“The heat, the solar radiation, is it intense and depressive?”
-----------
“Damn it, I would have told you to revel in your anger, feel it swirling darkly, let hatred be your guide, my brother. Can you do that anyway?”
“My hatred is a swirling tangle of barded wire armband tattoos.”
“Yes! Yes!”
----------------
“Can you drop a pin on your greatest predatory turd and send me the location and a short story regarding the circumstances?”
“As in poop?”
“Yes, for example, one of mine is under a jetty at the Sacramento Delta. I had eaten a gourmet burger at a roadside market, etc.”
“I will work on a poop story.”

Having traveled together for some years now, are there any standout memories from the road?
Walking, early morning, across miles of quiet industrial parking lots made of fucked up concrete, to get to Starbucks because it’s reasonably consistent, reliable; it’s usually somewhat near wherever we are staying while on tour.

Outside of skateboarding, what has Keegan taught you?
To always turn everything into a sex joke... but mostly, just to laugh and not care too much about certain things.

Whether it’s something tangible or just a general manner of being, what does Keegan bring to a trip that no one else does?
For me, it’s that we have mutual friends—good, close ones—outside of skating, so he brings that connection to my broader life. We can talk shit to each other and laugh about dick jokes and know that we are friends regardless of whether or not we are on Zero together.

Do you share any interests outside of skateboarding?
Sex jokes. Music. Cycling. Friends.

Is there a trick that Keegan does that you wish you could do as well as him?
I think the opposite is true. Well, I like Frontside Blunts a lot, and he’s really good at them. I like Front Blunts but always seem to lose them. Apart from that, I don’t really look at people’s tricks and think I’d like to do that. I just do what I do.

What’s the best part of being Keegan’s teammate on Zero and Poler?
We are just good friends, and it makes it more fun traveling together. In times that it could maybe not be that fun, we find the bright side of things.


John Rattray, Eggplant. Jones photo

Keegan Sauder on John Rattray:

What did you know about John before first meeting him?
I knew John was from Scotland, and I knew he had been to Vancouver before. In 1999 or so, I was driving with Dylan Doubt, and we drove past these guys, and Dylan said something like, “Oh there are those Scottish guys that are staying at that house of the guy from Langley (Corey Adams).” It was only a few years later that I met Corey, Alex Craig from Scotland, and then John came to visit them again, and I clued in that these were the same guys from a few years before. Around this time John probably got on Zero, so I knew that he ripped just like everyone else knew.

Had you seen a photo or video of him that still stands out to you?
I liked the way he skated in the Blueprint video Waiting for the World.

Tell me about the first time you met John. Did you play any role in him ending up as your teammate on Zero?
The first time I met him, he came to Vancouver in 2001, and we ended up in a short film that Corey and Alex made, Of Wolf and Limb. John and I were both wolf men in the movie, so I ended up bringing him his dismembered leg in the movie. I ended up humping his leg and licking the stump. I’m not sure if he helped me get on Zero, maybe he said something to Jamie, but just the fact that we were friends made it exciting to be on the same team together.

What is your relationship like these days? How often do you talk or see one another?
We send some texts now and again, random thoughts and weird ideas, or ideas for trips we should take. There was a time when I couch-surfed in and out of his house for around two years, and I’m grateful to John and his wife for that. That was home base more than Vancouver was for quite awhile. Both of them will be good friends of mine probably until we are under the grass staring up at the roots.

Having traveled together for some years now, are there any standout memories from the road?
If we room together, we usually just set up a nest like a couple of old women. We stock up on snacks, physical therapy things, rubber bands, jump ropes, ice packs, things we’ve acquired over the years. Nothing crazy, probably just the most boring room. Too worried about the health and fitness of our bodies so we can keep trying to skate. It’s definitely not the party room. We just read books, watch TV and ice stuff. We always go on a walk through the industrial wasteland that we always seem to end up staying in, usually around a couple of miles, just to go to a Starbucks in the morning. We pretend it’s post-apocalyptic times, and we are just out there looking, hoping there is a Starbucks left out there somewhere, still open.

Outside of skateboarding, what has John taught you?
I’ve learned that you can do some pretty cool things if you are motivated, like the videos and skateboards he’s made for The Predatory Bird. He took a biology course recently. He just does those things that I sometimes just feel like I talk about. He’s got a brilliant, active mind.

Whether it’s something tangible or just a general manner of being, what does John bring to a trip that no one else does?
He just has a really observant eye for people in the crowds, how things are being done, what the locals are like, just things like that. He’s always writing things down, and he’ll quote you on it down the line, just from his notes.

Do you share any interests outside of skateboarding?
Cycling—that’s an outside skateboarding interest. We don’t share surfing; we do share hiking, though. We haven’t done that much, but we are both down... mostly cycling. We have gone on some trips together, and it’s always fun. We both also really like the way the RZA and GZA sound.

Is there a trick that John does that you wish you could do as well as him?
He’s got good Nollie Flips and 360 Flips with a lot of speed. He can push, really push, and just do those tricks on flat well. He also does really nice Backside Airs, Inverts—he just does stuff. There are a lot of tricks on that list. He’s done a proper 540. But I’d say those flatground tricks with speed are my favourite.

What’s the best part of being John’s teammate on Zero and Poler?
Just the day-to-day dialogue, running commentary on the world around us. The way he will talk to people on the street is interesting. There’s never a dull moment with him.



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