Photos by Thomas Robinson
With young guns like Jack O’Grady around, the future of Australian skateboarding is in good hands. To say Jack (or Squish, as his friends call him) has had a big few years would be a gross understatement. In just a few short years, he’s earned a spot on the Pass~Port team and a stand-out part in their full-length flick Kitsch, been crowned Slam Mag‘s Australian skater of the year (becoming the youngest ever to do so at just 19), and joined the ranks of Thrasher’s Am Scramble, which also scored him a cover. And because no one knows Squish better than the Pass~Port crew, we asked the guys to fire some questions at him for this interview, which they did on a Saturday night, armed with a recording app and some beers.
What was it like growing up in the Shire? We know you’ve got a 4×4 and a dirt bike.
The people that live there fucking suck, as you know. It’s just a big bubble. Pretty much everyone that lives there is a sheep, you know? They just follow each other. It’s good being a skater from The Shire though, ‘cause then you have your core friends and you know who you are.
You look like Joe Pesci, but which one are you: Home Alone Joe Pesci, or Good Fellas Joe Pesci?
Right now I’ve got a beanie on, so maybe Home Alone.
So, you got Skater of the Year in 2019. How was that?
It caught me by surprise; I had no idea at all. I didn’t think it’d happened at all. We were at Town Hall, and everyone said we were just getting a spot there. We rocked up and… I dunno, it felt fuckin’ weird! The people that you look up to who get that stuff, you never expect to be following in their footsteps.
How’d you break your ankle and wrists?
I’ve fractured both my elbows, and I think I was about thirteen or fourteen when I broke my ankle. It was at this Nike comp in Darwin. I was obviously at home for a couple of weeks, in the boot or whatever, on crutches. I wasn’t skating, but I started to get really into painting. Then a couple months after that was when I got done by cops, ‘cause… one Friday afternoon the cops came to my school. They rocked up and I had to do a full interview with the police. That was on Halloween, then my mum grounded me.
Brutal. What could you do and what couldn’t you do?
She never really put any rules out there, but the police took my phone so I couldn’t tell my mates that I couldn’t come out. Then I got my phone back from the cops a year and a half later, but I never got done. They tried to get me for graffiti but I didn’t say anything in the interview, so they couldn’t get me.
Smart. No comment. Your ender for Pass~Port, let’s talk about that. How did you get to the point where you ollied into it?
I mean, everyone knows that spot ‘cause it’s right next to Waterloo. And the end of filming for the Pass~Port video was coming, and I was like, I really wanna do something in Sydney, at a spot that everyone knows.
That no one has ever seen done before.
That spot is old and rugged. I would always just drive by it. And then I went there one night and had a good look, like, ‘What can you actually do here?’ And I sussed it out and I saw that you can take the two barriers off at the top and it was possible to ollie it. There was a rough patch on each bank, but I just bondo-ed a little part. I think it was maybe about an eight month period that I’d go every couple of weeks and do a bit of bondo-ing because fuck, a proper bondo wouldn’t do the whole thing. It probably took about three or four tubs. I’d bondo a bit, take some screws off, and then eventually I’d end up painting the bondo and taking the whole barriers off.
Being a young Aussie skater, coming from Sydney, how did it feel to film the end for the Am Scramble tour?
I think I was in the States when I got the message. Geoff Campbell was talking to me about it, like ‘Oh, I hit up Mike to try to get you on there’ but there was no promises. Then I was in LA skating one day and I checked my phone and I’d got a DM from Burnett. I was in the States with a visa for three months and then Burnett hit me up and was like, ‘we’re doing the Am Scramble and it’s going to end on this particular date,’ so it worked out perfectly. I couldn’t really believe it, going on that. On that trip, I’d go skating in the days and then nights we’d come back to the hotel and I’d be like, fuck this is weird, going down to the hotel and seeing like Burnett and shit. It’s not something you see every day, especially for me.
And then you got the cover! What’s your honest thoughts when you saw the Thrasher cover with you grinding that hubba on it?
I slept in that day (laughs). I think my good friend George Kousoulis called me at like 7:30 and I just screened his call. Then I woke up at like 9am and I was in a few group chats that were popping off. I went on Instagram straight away and saw it… I think I put the sheets over my head and just had to give myself a second. I didn’t think that they would give me the cover, especially on that, because Selego did it in Mosaic.
What did he do, nose-blunt?
Nah, front-side 50, years ago, so that’s his spot. So I was caught by surprise that they did that but at the end of the day, it still doesn’t feel real that I have one of those. Everyone has a mental bucket list, but that was never on my bucket list. Being from Australia and seeing the people that’ve made it from Australia that have them, you know.
Ticked it off, done. So your parents are pretty supportive of your skating career?
My parents are the best; they’ve always been so fucking supportive. I remember I used to play rubgy league from about five years old, and we used to train on Thursdays and then play on Saturday mornings. But when I was eight, I started skating, going to skateparks, and I was getting really into it. One day I told my dad I really wanna skate, I don’t wanna play footy and he pulled me out and I’ve been skating ever since. My dad’s always so supportive, if a clip or video comes out of whatever he’s like, ‘Oh, mate, that’s crazy!’ They’re very supportive.
So what was you dad’s response to the Thrasher cover then? Did he have to go for a walk?
Like I said, I’ve seen it on my phone and I pulled the sheets over my head, just freaking out in my bed, you know. Then five minutes later my dad comes in, and he’s seen it, and opened my door and gone, ‘What the FUCK!’ His reaction was better than mine.
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That night that we surprised you at the Cricketers Arms Hotel with putting you on Pass~Port, fucking fun. What were your thoughts on that?
It was the Nike premiere at Martin Place, so it was a big night anyway because it was my first ever prem at Martin. Everyone was working on that video for a bit, so it was a really fun night; then we went to the Cricketers and everyone was having a good time. I think my mum and dad and sister were there at the prem…
Yeah, they were all aware of it.
I was upstairs talking to them and I really wanted to smoke a ciggie but I never smoke in front of my parents. So I went downstairs and smoked a ciggie with someone, and when I was outside I’ve seen someone carrying a cake upstairs, but I didn’t think anything of it. Then Mibsy came downstairs and was like, ‘We gotta do some photos—come up,’ and then I walked upstairs and went to the bar. Someone tapped me on the shoulder to come and get a photo, and then I walk into the room with the cake and everyone’s filming and like, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ I’ve seen a cake with my name and Pass~Port on it, and as soon as I read it, it was just disbelief. Growing up, I just always watched Passie videos and I fucking loved that. And then I just walked into the dream.