Valley to Valley


Lost Prophets guitarist Mike Lewis ponders the relative attractions of South Wales and his adopted surf-turf, Santa Monica in like LA man. Photography:
James Dimmock
Santa Monica is a far cry from Pontypridd. All the things I loved doing when I was a kid I can do here – I grew up skateboarding and playing football and always wanted to go snowboarding. We all live here now and there’s not so much paddling around in the middle of winter when you need six tons of rubber so you don't freeze your nuts off. Over here I can surf every morning, I play football twice a week and snowboarding is only three hours away. You just can't to that with the Britain mountains. It's a brilliant place to live and it’s sunny the whole time.
It’s a bit of an accident I ended up here, I never really planned to. We did our second record here and I thought it was a cool place to live. There’s a lot going on – there’s a lot going on in London too, but LA’s different, with all the outdoor stuff. Then I met my wife – she’s from Malibu – and the only way we could make it work was if I moved here or she moves to Wales. It wasn’t a hard choice really.
The surf here is awesome, and there are so many great point breaks up and down the coast. The crowds are awful but surfing here has taught us the power of the ocean - we’ve been out in massive 15-20ft faces and shit ourselves.
I like Santa Monica because it’s got a big British population too. We go and watch the football and rugby and get a Sunday lunch at the Brittania pub - walking in there is just like walking into a pub in Pontypridd.
There is some stuff I miss about Wales though, the stupid things: Tesco, the chaos of Cardiff town centre on a Saturday afternoon, or going down the chip shop and thinking what do I want for tea tonight, pastie and chips? West Wales if beautiful, I used to surf Llangennith. But do I ever prefer cold water and grey skies? No. Mike Lewis


Fix Up, Look Sharps

A visit to a wicked barber shop near Tottenham Court Road. By Andre Mcleod
I've had the same barber since the age of six. Through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed birthday parties, trips to the countryside, first day at secondary school, date with a girl in the year above, internships, freshers balls, 21st celebrations, funerals, graduation, press trips abroad, weddings and afterparties.
In all that time I've only had it cut elsewhere once and that was while I was in LA a few months ago. I was staying at the Standard Hotel on Sunset Boulevard and they had a barbershop. The people in there were different, exotic and exciting. They even laughed at my jokes. I was young, naïve and unshaven. The experience didn't last that long but I regretted it straight away. As soon as I got back to London I told my barber what had happened. We decided that 18 years together meant something and that we could work through it.
So it was with some trepidation that I made the journey to Sharps on Charlotte Street near Tottenham Court Road. Their first shop has been open here for about a year and a half now but the brand has been going for several years in New York. “We wanted to bring back old school barbering,” said head barber Paul dos Reis. “The type of shop your old man would be happy to get a trim in.”
It all happens while you're seated in a Belmont barber’s chair, which is a vintage but modern classic. They’ve got a few of them in the shop, and the chair seems timeless, like an Aston Martin or Marilyn Monroe's cleavage. The Belmont goes for about £5-6,000 new, or less if reupholstered.
A dry cut is about £21 but the real draw is a wet shave. Have you ever had one? Sharps believe this is a service that every man deserves, no matter how you look or dress. "We're not like some hairdressers where you walk out with highlights you never wanted. What we do is 21st century barbering for the modern everyday man," Paul said as we stood in the hair washing room with Oliver Reed looking down on us from the wall, seemingly in approval.
If I were ever going to stray again this would be the place, but I'm not that guy… anymore. In fact, I'm taken. Andre McLeod
SHARPS Barber and Shop, 13A Charlotte Street, London. W1T 1RH 020 7636 8688. www.sharpsbarbers.com