Life has many challenges. One you never see mentioned in surf magazines is the challenge that we will all have to face at some point: dealing with the death of a loved one. Marcus Lascelles is the youngest son of ‘Chops’ who you’ll know died suddenly back in autumn last year. Out of all the boys Markie was always going to be the one to take on the family business, but he hadn’t quite figured it would come around to his turn so fast. At 23 he not only had to deal with losing a father, who happened to be a surfing legend, but he also had to face the fact that he is now head of one of Britain’s most iconic surfboard labels.
Interview by Steve England, first published in issue 149 of Carve. Pics; Sharpy.
So you’ve pretty much just gone through one of the heaviest periods of your life. How are you feeling now and how are the family?
Yeah it was definitely the heaviest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I’ve been very lucky and never had to deal with a loss like that before. And to be with Dad one minute, seeming fine having a laugh then a couple of hours later he’s gone. It was so full on. My family always seemed invincible to me. For me it was just really hard knowing how to act and what to do. Nothing really prepares you for it. There were so many ups and downs in that first couple of weeks. Before anything I just wanted to make sure mum and my brothers were okay, and the rest of the family that are in Oz. But there is just nothing you can say or do, there’s a total feeling of helplessness. That bit was really hard for me. It kind of made me angry, it’s a real strange feeling. On the flip side of all of that though, you really see your family, friends and the community come into its own. Mates going above and beyond to help us out however they can. Our house was kinda like a central hub for everyone dealing with it for a good few weeks. That was a big help for me. And to see how many people it affected and how many wanted to help. And mostly how many people dad had an effect on. I mean from people much younger than me to older than dad all just gutted, but all having a story or some advice he gave them. Or tales of the time he chased them round the factory with a stick, that kinda thing. Man did we talk some stories…
As for now I’m feeling good. We were bred strong and if anything after hearing all that dad has done, it drives me to do something good myself. I would never forgive myself if I let it get the better of me and threw anything away. I mean I do get how it can get the better of you. I have my days where everything feels a bit shit, days where you think it’s unfair, and I certainly have a bit more aggression at times ha! But I just want to do well in whatever I’m doing, help mum out as much as I can and keep my bros off my back! And things happening like this really do give you a bit more appreciation for your mates and family, work and every thing that is happening around you. So yeah, I’m feeling positive for this year and looking forward to having a good summer in the Shire, surfing and working a load. And just putting last year behind me and enjoying myself this year. You really should enjoy it while you can, if anyone is testament to that it’s Dad.
As for the family, mum is doing good, Bubs is off on a pilgrimage around America, Central America and Hawaii then off to Oz. And Sean is busy at work and helping me with some stuff as well. We are all sticking together though and getting on with it. We had a really good Crimbo and stuff, first time we’ve been together for it in years so I guess that was good, and we raised a few glasses to the big man.
Going back to the send off. Did you ever expect such a turn out?
Well, it was a bit of a funny one, because when we started to think about what to do we were a bit stumped. All we really knew was that dad, let’s just say, ‘disliked’ the church. So we knew that was out. Then when we started planning it we started thinking about who to invite, then we realised the job we had in front of us. So we picked the spot and planned for a lot of people. I remember when we took dad for the last drive round the cliffs on the way up to the marquee we started freaking a bit. We suddenly thought it would be 10 of us in a massive marquee with all these empty seats and a horrible vibe. And then we came round the corner (about a mile or so away) and there were more cars than I’ve ever seen wedged in wherever they could fit. And then I just went in to freakout mode. It was unreal. I’m so glad that we did it how we did and that everyone got an opportunity to come along and pay their respects. I, however, didn’t really get a chance to take it all in. I was one of the pallbearers along with my two brothers, James and Luke Hendy and Martin Mynne. When I got out the car and saw all them people split and make a path for us, well I looked at the floor and nowhere else. It was amazing, but scary and hard and every sort of emotion you could feel in one go! We had Skinner and Wiggy along with his wife Rhi and a few others helping usher people in. Ben said when they started it was all cool and the seats had plenty of leg room, and by the end he was a stressed out mess and had shuffled people forward about 15 times. Someone said to me their leg room went from first class to Ryanair in 10 mins! Rhi had to stop people leaving signatures around the 1300 mark I think. I think we kinda knew what was to come, but too see it was overwhelming. And thanks to every one who did come and make it so special. We really couldn’t have asked for anything more. And a huge thanks to all who helped pull it off. I think everyone was assuming there would be a fair few there, but I don’t think any one could have imagined that.
All things being considered it was a send off to be proud of. Shame the old bugger wasn’t there cos I am sure he would have loved it. Which bit stood out most for you?
Yeah, he would have loved that one! Umm I don’t know really, there was a lot of it for me. I mean the vibe, it was just so cool. I’ve not been to a funeral before but I’ve probably been to weddings less fun than that! I’m not sure what’s conventional or what you would call correct, but then dad never was one for the norm and I think he would have loved it! The fact it was meant to be a massive hideous storm but then the sun came and it looked amazing all day. The music was great, the beer that Steve Skinner brewed himself and named ‘El Choppo’ got every one in the right mood, and having all those people in the one room, all different ages and walks of life, most of the UK’s surfing royalty. It was just classic, a one off thing for a one off man. I guess the big highlights was seeing my two brothers lead by example, they were both faultless the whole day. And then Sean managing to get up and say something to the whole crowd, well that takes some serious balls I think. Then my mum giving a bit of a surprise speech at the crematorium and not missing a beat, saying some really nice words. She was great all day, they were highlights for me. And then Bubsy stole the show on the paddle out! In fact the paddle out was pretty special as well wasn’t it?
And as it turned out you were all actually related to royalty?!Have you figured out where you are in line to the throne yet?
Not yet, just waiting for them to send me my cheque in the post! I think at some point dad was thirty-something off the throne! Not sure if we fit the style though. Could certainly go on one hell of a surf trip with a royal budget!
So some corking stories came out about the old man. What’s the best story that you didn’t really know about?
I really can’t pick one. There was so many it’s unreal. The Hendy boys had a couple of crackers. Minnsy has a few beauties I liked the one that you wrote, that was cool to see. Smoothy and Dimmer have some classics. I’m still getting ones now. Rabbit (Wayne Bartholomew, long term friend) emailed me one the other day about how dad always put him on the right bank over here, and took him to the right parties, one apparently was a demolition party and you got a sledge hammer on entrance! I like all the different people and types of surfers who got advice from him that has helped them along the way. But the ones that probably tickle me the most are the ones of him having ‘indifferences’ with people. They always seem to end up with a hell of a story; and the factory stories. Pretty much any of the boys who worked for him have some really funny stories. Mostly them getting in trouble for bailing work and going surfing. I guess with dad it was always do as I say not as I do! I do really like one though about him taking on massive 15 foot plus Anchor Point one day, on his big single fin gun with no leash. Him and mum had driven an old combi van down there back in the day. Sounded like a right old laugh!
So out of the three of you, you are tasked with taking on the business. How did this come about?
Well, I’ve always been involved since I was pretty young, and I’ve always wanted to work in the surf industry. I’ve never pictured myself doing anything else. I guess from a young age I kinda pursued surfing a bit more than Bubs and Sean, and obviously dad was alway teaching me bits, firstly to do with surfing and competing, and then as I got a little older he bought a shaping machine, which he taught me to run and then taught me to shape and design along with it. He always wanted me to travel and do my own thing though. I think he knew it would help me grow a bit as a person, he always loved finding out what situations I was getting myself into and out of … good and bad. I guess he knew the importance of travelling and doing things for myself. So he would let me go away in the winters, and then about three years ago he said that I needed to get myself in a position where I was capable of running it all, because him and mum didn’t want to do it forever and it’s either mine to gain or lose sort of thing. So I started putting a lot more work in. Dad was never one for the free ride. He was always willing to help but you had to show you were up for it. And that was kind of my test I guess. But I got involved. I’d already planned that last year was the last time I was going away for winter, that I was now going to shape and run the machine, and also work in the shop and help mum out there. So I was kinda already in a position to do it. We always had a plan in place that dad would step away and chill out a little bit more and he was happy I could do it and wanted to do it. And I’m so happy I got all those years of my life to take his knowledge on board, and the knowledge of all the legends he has brought to the house or the factory. So right now me and mum are doing the shop together and then I’m up on the machine the remaining days. Kinda putting in seven days a week at the moment so I can keep on top of stuff, and open up a few windows for surf trips!
Have you unearthed any classic old shapes from the back of the shop/shaping bay etc?
I’ve found a few actually. There was one that dad did the morning it all happened. I walked back in the shaping bay and there it was, a 5’6″ Disco. Probably an inch too short for me but a bit wider than my normal one, with the pencil still sat under his signature. It was pretty strange. I’ve not done anything with that one yet, it’s still in my shaping bay just sat there. But I think I’ll glass it up. I’m a little bit gutted because I’ve been doing my own boards for so many years now I’ve only got really old beaten up ones of dads, so I’ll probably just make that one work for me for a couple of surfs then put it on my wall! And then last week I was going through all these old blanks, and then in the middle of them all there is this perfect shaped up longboard by dad. So I’m going to get that one glassed up as a family longboard. Then the one that is probably my favourite is a Cord he did. He was up in the roof making loads of noise one day, banging around in his graceful manner, and I couldn’t work out what he was up to so I poked my head up there, and he had found this old Clark foam blank with a rotten stinger. So he cut a new piece of balsa for the stringer glued it up and made this rad 9’4″ pointed nose single fin with this full on pin tail and epic rails on it. So that’s down the shop on display, waiting for me to find a nice 8-10ft point break one day and then I’ll take it in, and then it might go back on the wall! Also the other day I walked in to the Malthouse (the B+B a long time family friend, Di, owns) and Di was doing some cleaning, and right there behind a load of crap was my first ever board dad made me. We thought it had been long gone years and years ago. So I’m stoked I got that back. It’s a 5’4” x19 mini-mal single fin, and just says, “To Markie. Happy birthday! Love Dad” on the bottom.
And how are things coming along?
Things are going good, I’ve been busy. We have had quite a few orders on, it was a bit of a hectic start because there was so much stuff to sort through and do, but at the same time it felt a bit like I couldn’t just stop work, or make mum go to work. But I was really lucky that Sam, who works in the shop really helped me out by doing a shit hot job and taking the pressure off me for a bit. I think Noah and Sandra helped him out a bit as well. Then having Skindog, Larry and Jer help out with what ever I needed with the machine and stuff, or just helping me out or whatever it took to just make me feel a little less like my head would explode. But now it’s settled down a bit and it’s going along really well, getting it all ready for Easter now. I’ve been doing a lot of custom orders on the build up to and after Christmas and shop orders. I’ve also been doing some team boards I’m really happy with. I did Josh Piper a really fun looking board before he went away, and I’ve seen some pics and vids popping up of him ripping on it so I’m excited for that feedback. Wardo just got a new one. Also I’ve done quite a few for the local boys. Been doing more and more longboards and mid-ranges as well, some nice Cords and stuff. So yeah I’m happy, and I’m keen to keep things going along well. Keep building BeachBeat and Cord, keep working hard on new models (because that means I get to go board testing) and keep on learning and bettering myself. I’ve been doing it a long time now, always learning from dad, but obviously it’s time to take the reins and make it my own. Keep flying the flag!
I see you have also relaunched Cord. Tell me about the history of that brand and where you are going with it?
Cord to me is just something so cool. It has so much heritage and history, and so many legends names to it! It was set up by my uncle Hump in 1965, with the likes of Bob McTavish Algy Grudd, Kevin Platt and Russell Hughes. Dad was there as the little grom round the factory. These boys were killing it back then, right at the forefront of it all! People like Peter Drouyn, Nat Young and George Greenough were factory regulars and always putting in input and coming up with ideas. This is where dad learnt his trade. I’ve always loved the boards, and Sean my brother is hooked on them, so early last year we decided to give them a bit more of a push again. Now we have a great range of longboards, mid-ranges and shortboards, some with a more modern take on it and some just straight out of the ’60s. With Cord we keep it as a team of shapers, which at the moment is Ben Skinner, Larry Loggins and I, also Ronnie Woodward when he is around. He is a proper legend and was around back then at the beginning, and we like to keep the old school stuff as original as possible so he keeps some input going in. Then we also do some modern takes on retro boards, all sorts really, and make them look really cool. It’s nice for me because it makes me think in a bit of a different way. I always used to just think about performance shortboards, because that all I rode, but now I want to ride everything I can. I’ve got a few cool new shapes and designs going through so different to what I normally ride but will hopefully get me just as barrelled!
Seems like you have most the local surf community behind you too?
It does seem that way! Again it’s just mind-blowing how this place came together, and everyone continues to support us. I think a lot of it is seeing someone young and local giving it a go. Dad and his business was a massive part of this village, and I think people want to see it continue. I’ve grown up with all these people, most of them are my really good mates, young and old, so it’s good they just want to see me and the family getting on. I’ve got a lot of pride in keeping it going and doing well, so I’m glad that people can see that.
And you’ve been getting a few surfs in?
Yeah I’ve been surfing as much as I can! I’ve been surfing a lot with Skindog, obviously last year we wanted to do a lot but I broke my ankle straight away (towing the Cribbar). So this year we’ve been chasing some swells which has been fun. I’ve always enjoyed travelling but never really taken the time to go and find the waves on our door step. And it’s epic that I can do it with Skinner. He has been part of the family forever, we get along well and we both have the same kinda schedule, having to get our work done around our surfing! So that’s been really cool. I’ve actually just got back from an epic little trip. Been surfing loads at home as well, I kinda fell out of love with my local spots I guess because I used to bugger off as soon as it started getting cold, so it’s sick seeing what they do when we get all this swell! And I’m pretty sure dad has been sending a few chunks down, a few corners here and a few ass whuppings there! How has this winter been for swell? It’s just been non-stop. So many random little waves pumping, it’s wicked to see, and it’s fun to surf with the boys and froth out so I’m stoked on that.
What was the best piece of advice your old man ever gave you?
Make sure you hit them first … Ha! No, dad has given me so much. I’ve had so many different bits of advice throughout different parts of my life. I really can’t pick one piece. He always had a few quotes he would mumble at me, but for me the biggest thing mum and dad ever did was giving us all such an epic childhood but keeping us all level headed at the same time. With dad if you stepped out of line you knew it, and I think that’s really important. And you were always accountable. He was always so proud of what ever we were doing though and would always know what to say and when, or if you were ever in the shit he would know how to deal with it straight away. Understanding how to deal with people and situations is one thing I’ll always take with me in day to day life. It’s really hard for me to pick one thing though. I guess I’m just lucky I had as long as I did to collect up as much as I could! I guess one is to enjoy what you do and the people you do it with, as that’s all that really matters.
And what’s the best piece of advice you could give you anyone who maybe is going through what you just have?
Just make sure you stick together as a family, and use your mates help where you can. It’s really tough at first, very stressful, lots to do and no clue how to do it. So you take it day to day at first, then week to week, and then I’ll let you know the next step after that! It’s a long process and it slowly becomes easier, but it is a slow process and it there’s no easy fix. You just find things that make it easier for yourself. Think of the good times when you can, surround yourself with good mates, just keep going forward. The minute you stop and let things get you down it can really get on top of you. But then everyone is different, so I guess a big chunk of it is listening to yourself, and doing what you need to do.
On March the 11 it will be six months since dad passed, it’s been a big six months, but we are all doing fine and will be fine. Thanks to everyones support. And all raise a glass to Dad at some point, it’s what he would want.