Methamphibian and SBTG Presents Skulls of Saigon

By - September 24th, 2007

freshness feature

For the past several years, the names Methamphibian and SBTG (Sabotage) have individually been synonymous with high end custom sneakers, graphics and apparel. Now, they are back at it again with a new joint project labeled “Skulls of Saigon” (SOS). Both SBTG and Meth give an in-depth look into their past and a first-look into what the future holds, with their new Skulls of Saigon project.

> Royalefam

> Methamphibian

Check out the collaboration below and see what each has to say about this project…

My name is Mark Ong, 28 years old. I was born and raised in Singapore. I go by the moniker SBTG, an abbrevia:tion of Sabotage which was created during the rebel years of my life. I am also responsible for the clothing label Royalefam which is a regal militia highly influenced by urban and war aesthetics.


I’m known as Methamphibian. Originally from Southern California, then NYC in the mid 90s, and now back in Cali again. The name comes from a character of a comic book story I was writing in school that was never finished. I went to SVA (School of Visual Arts) briefly in the mid 90s to study Illustration. ‘Methamphibian’ has taken many different forms throughout the past 10 years and now I see it as not only my alias, but an ongoing creative project and apparel label.


The whole customizing thing came very naturally when I started skateboarding in the late 80s through the millennium. I couldn’t afford to buy new sneakers so I had to improvise with many raw materials like leather patches and bicycle tires. All that also led me to modify it in an aesthetic sense as well as functional. I was toying with a lot of Airwalks (namely the Tailslide, Vic through the Velocity series), Chuck Taylors, Visions, VANS (Full Cabs to Half Cabs).


I also got into sneakers through an interest in skateboarding during the early 80s. Back then my friends and I were all about drawing and modifying our VANS and Chucks. It was a different time then, because we were more about ‘fucking up’ a pair of shoes in a cool way rather than making them look clean and nice.


In the 90s I started to developed an interest in Nikes when I picked up a Japanese sneaker mag. I liked sneakers all along but I didn’t know there was such a dedicated collectors magazine. I joined the movement. I started from looking at peoples feet and identifying every model, to visiting every ‘mom n pop’ sneaker shop in every obscure housing neighborhood very frequently in hopes of finding some rare deadstocks or old Jordans. This was way before Nike made any retro’s. I even took it a step further by taking the elevator up to the top floor of my housing complex and literally combed the block down for old sneakers. I even started to recall and track down all my mates in school who had Jordans. Back then every sneaker I owned had an interesting story cus they were never bought from a store.


During the late 80s, I got into Nikes after the Air Jordan 3 came out. I can remember how much I wanted those Black/Cement III’s. I was never able to get a pair partially due to the fact my parents at the time thought I would get stabbed at school and have my shoes stolen from me if i wore those. HAHA. After combing through sales racks and liquidation stores, I landed my first pair of Nike Airs – the Air Assault. To me, 1988 was the pinnacle of Nike design.


The mid to late 90s was the “vintage hunt” era where everything was still OG. Retros or replicas where called SC’s (sports classics) I think. It was very exciting. Especially because I was a teenager. I was mostly hunting for bball sneakers from the mid 80s – Air Force 1s, AJ’s, Dunks (way too expensive), Team Conventions, Terminators, Big Nikes, Vandal Supremes, etc… I customised an all white pair of OG legends to black and white. College style was all there was back then. We were all trying to mimic 1985.


I actually took a break from sneakers in the mid 90s during the latter High School years and went into a Goth/Punk phase. I pretty much wore nothing but Doc Martens and “Monkey Boots” for several years. I had moved from San Diego to NYC in 1994 when i was 17 and that was a huge step for me. I felt like I had finally reached the center of the world. New York in the mid 90s was a fun time, but for a lot it my memory is a bit ‘foggy’ heh.


I only got back into Nikes and ‘sneaker collecting’ around 1997 or so. Being in NYC introduced me to a lot of different things. One of them being this thing we call ‘sneaker culture’ and the whole collecting and vintage-hunting phenomenon.

By 1998 the dunk got retroed for the first time. I was the happiest person on earth. It was a whole new phase for me. Naturally, I got all the colorways. Then it stopped. I got bored of Nike spoon feeding us so I stopped the sneaker thing for couple of years until the Dunk Pro B’s came out, and then the SB’s. This was the ‘Cocoa Snake, 3m Snake, Stussy Dunks, Splattered Dunk’ era. Being purists, we were very biased against the new age dunks. I got a few, but then got really jaded after a while. I wanted more than what Nike was providing, so customizing sneakers came very naturally. To me, Nike was all about ’85 and after, so I sorta went back to the 80s with my designs. I did the Air Safari pattern to an air force 1 3 years ago and back then, that was fresh, but it seems really old now. Even custom competitions were new at that time. It was a great time for me.


When the Dunk retros started coming out during ’99-’01, that was around the time I started getting into sneaker customizing on a serious level. The Dunk was one of the models I frequently used when I started out because not only were they a very good shoe to work with but also I loved the simple aesthetic of the Dunk and its similarity to the AJ1. To me, the Dunk was one of very few Nikes you could just trash and it still looked good, something I was accustomed to when wearing VANS or Chucks. On top of that, Dunks were appearing in clearance racks for $30-40 bucks a pop. They were cheap shoes to experiment on.

Late 2000 was when I started associating the name Methamphibian with my custom shoes. And by 2001, it started to culminate online. I remember first seeing SBTG’s work during a NikeTalk custom competition and I as well as the rest of the community were blown away by it. Those were good times.

During the first half of the 2000’s both SBTG and I had each earned a bit of success in the custom game. But it wasnt until 2004 we were introduced to each other for the first time at a Sneakerpimps event in Brooklyn.

That was where it all started. Shortly after, I met with SBTG in Singapore and we worked on the first crossover shoe. It was the “Snake” and “Ocelot” Dunk set (named after the famed Metal Gear Solid characters). From there we did a bunch of shoes under joint label “Divide & Conquer.” The first major release under this project were the “Blood Oath” and “Model 18″ dunks sold online in our websites. They were very successful and sold out quickly. This continued up until the most recent release in conjunction with the Japanese store Essense for their store relaunch. We created the “Popkiller” and “Dethpact” AF1s which were equally as successful.

Our most recent project is called Skulls of Saigon. Earlier this year, both Mark and I were on tour for Sneakerpimps in Asia and we had joked about creating a fake metal band called Skulls of Saigon. Both Mark and I share a common interest in 80s thrash metal. Particularly Slayer, Sepultura, Pantera and Metallica.



Metallica is my favorite. I went to thier concert when I was 11 yrs old, back in ’93. I remember skipping end of day assembly at school rushing and home to change to “All Black”. It was still the best concert i’ve ever been to this day. I had a sore neck for 2 weeks.


So with the whole Skulls of Saigon project, we decided to draw inspiration and apply it to our sneakers in a much more tongue-in-cheek fashion. It’s a bit different from the monotone seriousness that you would usually find in our work. We took this step forward and just had fun with it. You still have the dark elements of Methamphibian in there as well as SBTG’s trademark pattern work, but together it forms an energetic mix of colors and images.

SOS is an ongoing thing. Right now the focus is on the sneakers. But we don’t expect to stop there, we plan on eventually expanding this as far as it can go.

The first batch out the gate will be a set of Dunk High and Dunk Low. The Dunk Highs are named “Psychoholic Slag” after the White Zombie song. The lows are called “Pestilence.” The name is inspired by the Metallica song “The Four Horsemen.” Both colorways are set to be released this sunday, Sept. 30th.


We had a lot of fun with this project. Nothing beats listening to good music and working to create something dope.


13sos 1

14sos 2