UNEMPLOYED / "Avance l'Arrière" / PREMIERE

The jobless (really?) accomplices of Unemployed Skate Co., more usually specialized in the production of colorful grip tape, recently went off on a tangent in the general direction of Algeria, a destination just as exotic as their art direction which in turn led them to meet new souls (most often intrigued by this breath of fresh air from the North, on wheels), and touch practically unskated spots. Despite being under supervision the whole time, they still managed to sneak two broken VX's into the country then leave it with full tapes! Their new edit is called "Avance L'arrière", a title Brian Bunting of Unemployed was happy to explain below, besides many more things because no, he didn't escape the 5W's treatment!
 
LIVE Skateboard Media: Out of all destinations, why choose Algeria for an Unemployed skate trip? How did the idea come about?
 
Brian Bunting: Originally, we got invited (upon request) on that trip by BSM, a La Friche, Marseille-based skate organization that's been trying to contribute to the development of skateboarding in Algeria. That was actually their second trip there.
 
Thing is, if you're not Algerian, it is super hard to get a visa allowing you into the country, unless you resort to the hack of the "sport / cultural" visa. Pretty much a pass from the government to go on a skate trip there with friends, that was too good to pass on [laughs]. No demo obligation or anything, and the terrain there is quite virgin - not many people have been going there to skate.
 

Dario Ben Tahar, wallride nollie. Ph.: Brian Bunting
 
We were keen to go check out the spots there, and the country in general.
 
So next thing we know, we're all at our respective embassies trying to get our piece of precious document, somehow. Last minute as always, things worked out, although Etienne's situation got sorted out just in time and Adel almost missed the flight...
 
LSM: So, who ended up caught in the trip vortex? How big was the crew? Did you have people to catch up with there?
 
Brian: Here's a list of who was roommate with who at the hostel we slept at - formerly a police office, great vibes: 
 
Bsm: Adel, Thomas, Guillaume, Clément. Out with the old, but in the same room. 
 
The cockroaches: Maël, Armand and Dario, three kids from Marseille who wanted to tag along. All fourteen, fifteen years old. It was rad having them around, they definitely brought energy to the trip.
 
Unemployed: Matisse, Etienne, Pierre, Brian.
 

Matisse Banc, hardflip. Ph.: Brian Bunting
 
So yeah, our roster comprised eleven peeps departing from Marseille. Tonton Kacem also rolled with us, he's Franco-Algerian and helped out a lot, made everything happen pretty much. LEGEND.
 
We kind of expected to meet people since the BSM guys had already been there. Locals ended up sticking around and kicking with us at all times, from the hostel to the spot, that was tight. We had brought a lot of gear with us to give away to the locals, seeing as the distribution is tedious and boards get fucked up super quick there. 
 
LSM: Where exactly did you guys go, and how long did you stay? Was a lot of the organization improvised or did you follow a schedule? 
 
Brian: We left for eight full days. It actually was all really organized - maybe too much. But not by us.
 

Thomas Walks, rock to fakie. Ph.: Brian Bunting
 
Drivers, cooks, rooms, everything was scheduled. Everything we felt like doing, we had to warn a whole crew. We were basically followed around by official supervisors whose mission was to watch that we'd never be off to some shady shit.
 
Failure. The guys went to buy a brick of hash and packs of beer first thing upon arrival.
 
So we were sweating getting caught for the whole trip. We'd use stickers to hide the proof under our beds.
 
We were staying at was used to be a police station in Rouiba, in the suburbs of Alger. As soon as we got to that hostel, I could feel some shit was up in the air already.
 

"That dude was into unicycle and paragliding
and left the next morning, which saved the trip
"

 
We were playing everything easy at first, especially in front of the government agents because there, if you start pissing people off you just get sent straight to jail [laughs], so we complied at the beginning to jauge how far we may be able to get in the end.
 
One of the most memorable catchphrases from the trip is "we really don't want any problem", coming from one of the agents. We quickly understood he didn't have a mere clue about our business there.
 

Artwork: Brian Bunting and Pierre Pauselli as seen in the art book available from Unemployed!
 
Long story short, we almost got sent back home three days in because Brian ended up telling one of the agents to just fuck off. That dude was into unicycle and paragliding, and left as soon as the next morning, which saved the trip.
 
Everybody else was cool, and allowed us to do pretty much whatever we pleased that we could do in a, I'll say it, totalitarian country.
 

Etienne Gros, ollie. Ph.: Brian Bunting
 
LSM: How tense was the atmosphere when you guys were skating? How would the locals react? Any positive memories?
 
Brian: Besides the aforementioned story, we never really got into any trouble. The locals were very welcoming, and have good intentions.
 
They don't really get tourists there so we were easy to spot. Some of us have been proposed to, and we've all heard the same stories from the local sailors who loved to rant about the Marseille chicks they used to fish in their young days.
 

"Camus wrote a lot about the place back in his day, praising the spot"

 
Oh yes, we almost missed a connection once because Thomas, Guillaume and Brian had wandered off to some Algerian illegal bar. We lost them for a while and then they came back all drunk on whisky and beer.
 
We almost missed our shuttle, they showed up last minute, reeking of booze. The locals' jaws had to be dropping upon the sight of drunk folks out of in the open on the streets, and foreigners even.
 
Adel stormed at them upon their arrival, explaining them that they should have been watching the kids instead. But in reality, he probably was just jealous - around that time of the trip, everybody probably needed whisky real bad.
 
 
The locals see skateboarding as something exotic. There is an Algerian skate scene, but it's a lot smaller than Morocco's, for instance. The country is self-absorbed, so skateboarding has a hard time entering the picture. So as soon as you start skating around town, crowds start to form and watch. Show up at an empty spot, fifteen minutes later, it's packed. Especially if you're downtown.
 
We got to skate everything we felt like skating, with the exception of military or government buildings. Matisse even smashed a brand new curb on the main Alger plaza and nobody even said a thing. Inch'allah, c'est pas toi.
 
Oh, and Pierre got chased down some Alger alleys by a goat, does that count?
 

"Always move forwards, but also backwards"

 
We also went on one day off to Tipaza (which I'll let you Google) [laughs], that was crazy. Algeria's Pompeii. Anyway, there we went down the docks and into a fish foods restaurant - the "Albert Camus I", recommended by a local. Camus wrote a lot about the place back in his day, praising the spot. We got pretty much every fish plate on the menu and washed it all down with hookah-induced smoke, then Matisse went and did that ollie down the stairs on the dam. That was a highlight for everyone on the trip.
 
 
LSM: What have you learned from that experience? Any last words?
 
Brian: We were out there in Bab El Oued! That's already good enough [laughs]. 
 
Meeting the local kids was one of the best things about the trip. Algeria is a young country and nowadays, that generation has access to social media, grows up with it and dreams of foreign perspectives, and the best for the future of their country. We didn't really do much, but hopefully we inspired some of them - who've most likely never left Algeria - to look into alternative practices and cultures such as skateboarding. Or maybe we didn't [laughs] but either way, they're all super motivated.
 
 
Algeria is a thought-provoking destination in general. Its past history with France is intriguing, and then we got to see so much - half the monuments there are memorials, pretty much.
 
We all learned our respective lessons from this trip, ranging from the human dimension to the cheap cigarettes reflex, and the idea of going to a country as closed as Algeria I now will think twice about. 
 
Oh, one last thing. We named the video "Avance l'Arrière" ["Forward Backwards"] because there really isn't any translation for "backing up" in the local language; they literally just express the idea of advancing forwards, but backwards - from the back - does that make any sense? Anyway, we fucked with the idea and looking back on the trip, it was a fitting metaphor for the entire experience too. Always move forwards, but also backwards. So, fakie?
 
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