Interview by Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hey what’s up, my name is Marc Tison. I have been skateboarding for a hell of a long time, a decade and a half at least. I am from Montreal. I have been to Vancouver many times too and I have lots of friends out there. I will probably be there soon, in a couple of months or so.
At what age did you start skating and what made you keep up with it?
I used to BMX and I had the shoddiest BMX bike and the frame cracked. I brought the bike back to the shop and they said that they would send it out for the warranty and that took forever. So, in the meantime, Barry actually hooked me up with a board. He kind of screwed me over but he has been a hustler all his life so it’s all good. We have been skating together since 1984. My board was pretty shoddy but I eventually got a better one and I became so HYPE on skating. I love learning new things every day, doing my own thing, and just the process of it all.
Through your relationship with Barry you guys have found lots of success throughout your skating career. While many skaters choose to go solo, you have found more success as a duo. Tell us more about this success.
We are the dynamic duo! But seriously, we don’t deal with industry politics and suck up to people. We are friends, we have a crew, and we skate. We are more concerned with our art form and our friendship with our crew than making money. Whenever we get a sponsor and we will hook up our friends with the sponsor and just keep skating. Skating is an individual sport but our individualities coincide in our friendships. There is no duo thing, really. We are just keeping it real from day one. Skating with your friends is what’s important.
Many people have recognized you and Barry as the kings and lords of the Olympic Pipe. What is your relationship with this iconic tunnel?
I remember in ’85 Barry took me there and we saw the local east van skaters skating it and there was still carpet in the flat because it used to be all carpet and rubber, running track stuff, you know? Guys from CBF and MTL like Rie and Ryan, those guys are pioneers too. It was truly so hard to skate but it is so perfect for skating. We were blown away. We would go pretty often and we went to Vancouver in the early ‘90s and we would go back and forth. After skating so much concrete in Van I was like fuck this and all this shit in Montreal, there is all such shit to skate. The Olympic pipe was the only thing to skate and I started conquering it. It was like, “Haha, I beat you!” The more you skate it the more you realize that it is not that hard to skate. You just have to loosen up. Some people come by and skate it and have a really hard time but some people come by and they kill it. If you think of Montreal skating you obviously think of the pipe. I guess from getting featured in pictures in the magazines and video footage, and people wanted to skate with us. That spot is Montreal for sure. There are other sick spots in Montreal but this spot sticks out like a sore thumb.
Speaking of The Big O, you and Barry also created a book called “Pipe Fiends”
I think we did that book in 2006. Somebody an independent publisher approached us and asked us if we wanted to do a book. We had always wanted to gather pictures of this spot so we were like, “Let’s do this.” We were like, “Let’s do this book, it will create awareness.” It was a lot of work and there were a lot of contributors and photographers who helped us put this thing together. It took a year, but we rocked it. It’s one of those rare, limited edition gems.
Barry mentioned how skateboarding is so commercialized now and it’s really great that you two are always skating purely for the love of it. Tell us how you two keep the true essence of skating real.
We skate when we feel like it. Some days we are just like, “Aw man, I really need my fix today.” The pipe is the kind of place where people go to skate. We grab a few beers and we keep skating. If there is a game then they gate up the tunnel a couple of hours before the game. But they don’t have games often. It is a whistle. If you covered the half pipe and put a ball into the channel at the end, it would be a whistle.
What do you do besides skateboarding?
I don’t skate for money. Neither is it a hobby because really, what is a hobby? Something you just do? Skating is my life. I am too in love with skating to be dealing with the business side of it or to make money off it. Right now I am doing carpentry and doing construction on houses. I am kind of getting tired of that so I will quit soon and focus on some other stuff. What that will be, time will tell. The word money is not what drags me onto a skateboard. Craving to skate is what gets me skating.
What is HYPE?
HYPE is a mental fabrication, almost like a mirrored image of deceit. But sometimes HYPE is a thing that you can use to your advantage. Some people live off HYPE and follow it. Like Chuck D said, “Don’t believe the HYPE.” It’s like an oasis in the desert, it’s not real. Follow what’s in your heart. Follow what’s real.