Interview: Lord Leopold

Extensive chatter with the Croatian night-grinder. Photos by Stiv Nuts, Kromo, Eman and Tuzla.

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I suppose the first thing I wanted to ask about was Croatia… I don’t know much about that place at all. What’s it like?

Got me thinking at the first question… what is Croatia like? I guess it’s a republic with corrupt politicians that are ripping off their own citizens and forcing the youth out of the country in search for a better life. On the other side it is a beautiful country with the most beautiful places on the world. Which is kinda bad because nowadays you have a lot of tourists coming in and then the locals stick heads up their asses, so you sometimes feel like a stranger in your own home.

That’s why I like my hometown in the winter when the city is empty. Pula used to be much emptier in the early 00’s. The climate is awesome (could be little colder though).

What was Yugoslavia? Was Croatia part of that?

Yugoslavia was made of six countries. One of them was Croatia and the others were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Serbia. It was like the USA. Tito was the president and the Capital was Belgrade. I was born during the Homeland war.

What was that?

It was a defensive war for independence and the integrity of the Croatian state against Serbian aggression. It was happening from 1991 to 1995. In the ‘90s some crazy shit was happening here.

What sort of food do people eat in Croatia?

People here eat mostly meat and fish (at least I do). If my meal don’t have meat in it I’ll probably stay hungry. Croatia is well known for its ham, cheese and wine, so if you ever come here I guarantee you won’t be hungry. 

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Alright, now we’ve got that out the way, how did you get into riding?

When I was six years old I saw a gypsy kid on a stolen BMX and I fell in love with the bike on first sight. I never saw anything like that before and I just wanted it. There was an exact trick I wanted to do on the bike which I cannot describe, but it included jumping on the rear pegs while the front wheel was on the ground hahaha.

My mom thought it was just a phase and didn’t think that it was important to me. Maybe it wouldn’t be so important if I didn’t go crazy from waiting for a bike until the age of 11. I realised I wasn’t getting one so I started saving money every day from my school lunch, which was about £1. I never ate at school.

It was hard not to eat every morning for two years but I wanted that bike. It took me that much to save enough money. It happened to be on my 13th birthday and I was about £20 short so my mom hooked me up with it and I finally bought my first BMX. It was the happiest day of my life. Even GTA San Andreas couldn’t compare to that feeling. From that day it was rollin’ till infinity.

I must go out with my bike every day or else I get anxious and nervous.

Your cousin rides too and is particularly good at wallrides. Who started first?

Yeah my cousin Eman is really good at wallrides, but he don’t know it yet. As I already said I bought my bike for my 13th birthday, and the very next day I met my cousin Eman accidentally in town while we were meeting some MTB riders. At the time no one rode BMX, everyone was riding MTB except the two of us. I immediately asked him where he bought his bike from and how much he paid for it. Then I found out that we were sharing the same destiny.

He was saving school money for two years, like me, but he started riding two months before I did, also on his birthday. Then we started this street shit in Pula and we’ve been best friends ever since. More than an actual brother would be to another.

Who were the top dogs riding in Croatia when you were growing up? Are there many old riding videos and stuff from round there?

Well, there were a few dudes that started BMX after MTB that were really talented. They were both cousins called Marin and Ivan but they stopped right after high school.

And then there was the worldwide-known Felipe Strbad from the capital of Croatia but he’s a cop now and stopped riding over the night. I loved the dude even though he didn’t show much respect back. The day he quit he made BMX in croatia ‘die’. Everyone after him seemed to quit riding too. All the shops were closed. That’s where the story with ‘top dogs’ ends.

The scene was too small to have old videos so all the ‘old’ videos are actually from us. This is our first video we ever uploaded. I still like how it’s made and I’m proud of mine and Eman’s little project from back in the day.

What were the best spots when you were growing up?

When I was growing up I rode the same spots as we do in our new videos because Pula is a small town. I was always into ledges and wallrides. We never had smaller rails so I grew up not riding them. My favourite spot would probably be the downhill street where I film all the ledge lines in our videos. It’s awesome really. You should take Clarky with you and see for yourself.

If I wasn’t riding this much I wouldn’t complain about lack of spots because Pula has really, really good spots and they are all so close. Daniel Niles was surprised while he was here when he realised he was never more than 20 minutes away from home. Sometimes it’s demotivating when you know there is nothing new to find in your town.

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How come all your footage is at night? Do you ever ride during the day, or is Croatia in eternal darkness?

I ride during the day but I cannot do anything on the daylight. It’s like I become a different person when the sun goes down. And ever since we started to film with the VX2100 it’s a waste of tape not to film at night. A lot of people hate night clips, but I love them. Usually Croatia is really sunny, even though we don’t show it a lot.

What do people in Croatia think of riding? Do you get much hassle? And are there any skateparks or anything?

I can’t speak for Croatians but I can speak for citizens of Pula. And I can tell they are pretty much ashamed of riding bikes… even the big ones. So BMX is out of the question.

In Croatia you have parks but they’re all pretty much the same. In Pula we just got one this year actually and its made of concrete and not like every other, but its more for skaters since everything is pretty low. I don’t spend much time there but when I do I practice wallrides.

Maybe a dull question, but is it hard to get bike parts and stuff over there?

It’s definitely hard to get parts over here since we don’t have shops so you have to pay for a fortune for customs and shipping. And then at customs they made up some other shipping and their own WAT even if you already paid WAT in the other country, so you pay for it twice and the price becomes enormously big.

For example when I was looking for Bob bars in the UK it was £75 and with shipping the price was £115. If you didn’t know in Croatia, the average wage is about £300, so if you pay £115 for bars you either don’t eat or don’t pay bills.

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What is ‘baby gold’, and how come you sold it for Bob bars?

Baby gold is the gold that you get on your baptism. You don’t even know you’re alive and your family comes to your baptism and buys you a golden necklace or shit like that. So when I was scared the Bobs are never going to be in sales again I didn’t think twice. I just went to ‘Cash and Gold’ throughout the whole city of Pula looking for the best price I could get.

After an hour I got an okay price and sold it all. My mom was really angry at me because of it but I explained it this way: you got your gold and I got my gold. Now I’m sorry that I bought four white pairs because the Make ones and the Skapegoat ones are in stock in black and I’m stuck with four white bars that have a manufacturing error because they’re all leaned to the left.

What is Huscija? How long have you lot been filming stuff?

Huščija is a made up word that I came up with a long time ago just by mishearing some parody clip. It was funny to me and really got caught up in my dictionary. It can also mean stuff like, “You heard?” or, “Get out the way!” but lately it’s just been a name for our crew.

We have been filming stuff since ‘06  but under the Huscija name it’s been seven years now. People come and go but the realest always stay. If I had to choose I would rather have a shitty camera back again and the old crew members back, but that’s something I cannot do anything about.

What was that old fisheye you lot used to film with?

Oh boy. It was this shit…

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If anything happens to this new fisheye I’m filming with I’ll just film long lens. There is no way I’m coming back to that circle even though we made some good videos with it. Before that we filmed with my old handycam and used the door spyhole as a fisheye.

How does a normal riding day go down for you lot? This sounds like a weird question, but I’ve noticed every crew has a slightly different version of a riding day, so I’m curious…

Well, unfortunately nowadays it looks like this — we go out and try not to go to the same spot we always go to, but every time we end up there because it feels like there’s nowhere else to go. Then we sit around talking about the dumbest things you can think of. I usually start doing feeble 180s and after that we sometimes play a game of Huscija (bike). We’re always talking shit more than riding. Sometimes we laugh so hard we can’t even ride. Back in the day we were much more active, but it was the because police were always chasing us for something hahaha.

Have you got any funny stories from when you’ve been out and about?

There was this one time we went to the capital of Croatia; Zagreb. Four of us went there in a Citroen Saxo that barely made it. We didn’t know where we were sleeping or anything, we just packed our bikes and camera and left. The plan was to go for five days. The first two days we slept in some coffee bar where we knew the bartender from our town. On the third day my cousin Eman fell hard on his head and had a brain concussion. Did we go to hospital? Hell no, we went to an alleyway where we all accidentally fell asleep.

I woke up and everyone was sleeping on the streets of Zagreb with all our stuff on the street. I took the VX and filmed the whole thing. You have Manci sleeping with his mouth wide open in the alley and Eman was so fucked up he didn’t know what was going on. The next day we decided to cut the trip off and came home a day or two earlier.

It’s a miracle we didn’t get our stuff stolen while accidentally sleeping on the street, Eman didn’t suffer serious health issues and yeah, the bartender that let us sleep in the coffee bar did got fired in case you wondered. Hahahaha.

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Haha that’s mental. You’ve got a definite classic-era Edwin riding style. What riders are you into? What videos do you watch?

My top five are Clarky, Ratkid, Bob Scerbo, Edwin and Skyler Ellingson. The list cannot go without Sinisi, Tyrone (in older days), Eman and such. Actually to make it simple: Strangeways crew, the old Animal crew and the LA crew in the mid 2000’s. It was perfect for me.

My favourite videos are all from the three crews I just mentioned, but I’m always down to see a video where a rider cares about his fakie rollout. It seems impossible to find that nowadays.

I also loved Road Fools. They stopped it at right time because the last few were lame.

Who is Skyler Ellingson? Never heard of that one.

He’s your new favourite rider. How come you don’t know about him?

Haha, that video is mint. Classic white t-shirt style. He must have evaded my radar. What videos suck?

For me, mostly any video that comes from California or anything that follows trends. Honestly I don’t even watch new stuff unless it’s someone I know or if someone I know recommends it to me. Speaking of Cali, I still like what Joe Molina puts out, even if the music ain’t for my ears. Guy has crazy style, I love it.

I just don’t like these huge bars, fat tires and plastic parts that everyone seems to rock. I don’t like the look or the sound of it.

If your ears aren’t tuned to the soulful sounds of Joe Molina… what music are you into?

Yeah Molina is an awesome rider and a cool dude. I love seeing his clips, he does stuff like no one else and is also one of my favourites… but I don’t like that type of music. I don’t like modern ‘rap’ I think it should be considered as another category of ‘music’.

I’m into hip hop — mostly old school, and I’m a huge fan of new wave and 80’s disco music. I think it screams in videos without me even saying it. 

What do you do when you’re not riding? Where do you work?

Right now I don’t work because I just kind of dropped out of college. It’s still in process. I’m not sure whether to continue or just let it go. When I’m not riding, I’m with my girlfriend, friends or up to no good haha.

I usually think about riding a lot so I spend most of my time thinking what can be put in the line. And sometimes I make pictures in Paint and they come out really good. This is one of my favourites…

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How did you get so good on Paint? 

With paint it’s actually all about pixels. I’m not good at art even if I want to be so I find some sort of way to please myself via Paint. It’s great when you have nothing important to do.

My tips are if you don’t have OCD don’t try, or you’ll go crazy.

How does the OCD affect your riding? I imagine it’s useful when learning complex grind combinations.

Well, I had OCD ever since I can remember but only my girlfriend got me into really thinking about it. It affects my riding in the way that I have to go out riding everyday — even if I’m sick or it’s raining. Before I start pedalling, I have to do a barspin with my leg on the ground. Sometimes I have to do three barspins before pedalling.

Also I’m not leaving the clip alone until its filmed how I like it. It may look okay for everyone around me but I might stop in the middle of filming the line and go back to beginning just because I didn’t feel like it’s done good.

When I think about it really gives me a hard time riding but I don’t care I’m used to it and its normal to me. Unfortunately it doesn’t help in my riding progress as you might have thought. It’s more the opposite hahaha.

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Talking of OCD… what would happen if I touched your nose? And how much toilet paper do you usually go through a week?

Oh boy — I see you’ve been talking to Clarky. Well usually when my girlfriend touches my nose it’s like I have no nose so she must put it back again so I know it’s there. And then I have to make sure to fix the position of the nose so I have to touch it with both hands. As you can see I’m far away from a normal guy, but to be honest I don’t like normal things at all.

About the toilet paper, every time I go to bathroom I have to use the whole roll, even if it’s not needed. The good thing is that lately I found a way to avoid that problem — now I get the non-rolled paper so I just use how much I need. It’s been going good ever since. It saves a lot money.

How come you’re so into that Grand Theft Auto game, San Andreas?

It may be my OCD, I’m not sure. When San Andreas came out I was almost 13 and it kind of formed my whole childhood. I loved rap, but in 2004 we didn’t have the internet, so you couldn’t know much about it. I didn’t even know what the internet was at the time, so San Andreas hooked me up with the best music.

I always felt like that game was made just how I wanted it — there was nothing missing. Gang life — which I’m fascinated by, 80’s and 90’s music — which is my favourite, shit… you could even ride BMX in it. It’s my favourite game to this day and I play it whenever I get a chance. We even filmed GTA tributes on two of our videos. Thank you Sam Hauser!

Some people in high school used to call me CJ actually. I never liked it but what can I say?

Who comes up with all you Croatian guy’s nicknames? And where does the name Lord Leopold come from? Isn’t that a racehorse?

I came up with most of the nicknames. I must admit that it’s something I’m really proud of. They are pretty catchy and last forever. People must be careful around me or Eman or they could get marked for their whole life.

The name Lord Leopold came from when I was in the third grade in high school. I felt great that year. School was going great (although I never studied), riding was going awesome and I was pretty healthy back then. I didn’t do shit but ride after school. The most important thing was that I was aware of how happy I was at the time, so I felt like a Lord throughout that period of my life. Leopold just came right after it while I was changing my name on Facebook one evening. It just sounded right to me you know? I always do stuff by ear. If it doesn’t come to me right away it’s better not to even try because I’ll just fuck the whole thing up.

Lord Leopold was one of the most hated names at the time here because no one gives names to themselves, but I don’t care man I love it. How would you read Marko Mrđenović? Not even Croatian people spell it the right first time, so fuck it — LL it is.

About the racing horse… I only found out about that later, so it has nothing to do with a racehorse man. But I did laugh when I found out about it hahaha.

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You’ve just got back from a trip to England. What did you think of it? How was it riding on the other side of the road?

The trip to London was awesome, thanks for asking. I only got to ride for three days because I dislocated my shoulder doing my everyday shit, but that didn’t stopped me from pedalling throughout the whole of London with one hand. Daniel Niles showed us the finest spots and we loved it. I’m not used to such distance in a big city but I wasn’t tired at all.

Riding on the wrong side of the road almost got me stabbed by an angry man on a motorbike on the very first evening session we had. I wasn’t trippin’ so he was cool after I explained the thing haha.

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How’s your shoulder doing now?

Man the shoulder ain’t so good, I just got back from hospital this morning and my ligaments are damaged a lot so I have to wait for two months now. I’m already going crazy with no riding so I asked the doc if there’s anything I could do. He told me that in the best case I’ll have to wait one month and I have appointment again in three weeks.

I’ll do anything just to get back on the bike as soon as possible because my OCD won’t let me NOT ride. I don’t know what to do now. Also my girlfriend moved back to her hometown on the exact day when we went for London, so it’s a shitty situation right now.

It sounds it man. I think I’ve asked you everything I can think of here. Cheers for your patience with all this nonsense. Any words of wisdom you’d like to add?

We have the ability to document our history. Whoever wants to delete it can just poorly cover it. It may become hard to see your past in the future but that way you’ll always know where you came from.  Sometimes I’m such an idiot hahaha.

Interview: Nick Ferreira

A civilised pow-wow with the man behind Holeshot zine, Schweppes and various other masterpieces of the printed page. Wall-carve photo by Andrew Merino. 

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Classic start-of-an-interview question for you here… what got you into riding? Where abouts are you from? Who were the main riders there?

I got into riding in the classic way—seeing older kids doing wheelies and 360 pivots. My older cousin would ride wheelies on borrowed Schwinn Predators and I thought he was the coolest.

The biggest turning point for me was when I went camping with my parents for a weekend in the fall, I was probably around 9.  I always brought my bike to pedal around the campgrounds and this time I met these kids who all raced BMX.

I was vaguely aware that racing was a thing and even knew that my hometown (Taunton, MA) used to have a BMX track during boom BMX times. We raced around a “track” we made at the campground and that was it—I was hooked. For my next birthday I got a Robinson Rebel (and Nirvana’s Nevermind—a really sick B-Day).

I immediately started racing at an indoor track, Cranberry World BMX in Wareham, MA (they’ve got mad cranberry bogs there).

I kind of quit racing when I was 13 because it was boring going by yourself and clipless pedals started to come into play. BMX really took over beyond neighborhood wheelies and transportation when my friend Mike Ellis built a quarterpipe in his driveway.

Until I was about 17 I rode mostly with people from my hometown area. Shout out to Mike Ellis, Shawn Summers, Kris Viera, Andy Pacheco, Ryan Homer, Dan Bigelow, Brian McDonough, and all the other buds.

You’ve been making zines and putting stuff out for a while now. Why did you start? And can you give us a rundown of everything you’ve done on paper?

I think I started photocopying drawings and when I was in fourth grade. I remember being blown away at the ease of making a copy at Christy’s convenience store (RIP). I was always into art, especially redrawing logos and type (lots of drawings of embarrassing bands like Marilyn Manson—I wasn’t a goth, I just thought the logo was cool.) I can’t remember when, but sometime in middle school I made a zine called Cabinet.

I wrote ‘news’ about BMX in Taunton (there wasn’t much) and recycled photos from BMX Plus! (I had good taste though and distinctly remember using a sick photo of Nyquist at the Dodge skatepark in Columbus, OH).

But to answer your question, I don’t really know why I started. I got hooked on Dig around issue 8 (the Road Fools 1 issue) and just thought it looked cool, as well as having cool, interesting writing about shit I had never heard about (Shellac, UK BMX companies, etc.).

It seemed to make sense to start shooting photos (thanks mom and dad for the camera) and seeing what I could do. In high school I started another BMX zine, Communication? inspired by Dig and my bud Andrew’s zine/web site, Giraffe Bothers (more on that in a bit). I had access to nice Mac computers, a dark room, free film, and a sick digital printer in my graphic arts class.  I just spent all my time working on that in high school. Thanks to Gary Walters for being psyched on that even though he was convinced we were faking the photos.

Rundown of everything I’ve done on paper:

Cabinet Zine

Communication? Zine

Small runs of photobooks and zines during college

Holeshot

Take Nothing But Photographs

Kona fanzine

DRI Tattoos

Strip Mall City zines with my friend Andrew Burton

Basketball photobook

Maui Waui

Schweppes

Maybe missing a few?

I’ve also worked on Amigos, a press (and sometimes shop) that focuses on zines, artists’ books, and art multiples. We’ve put out 16 items over the past 6 years.

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Some pages from Holeshot Issue 1.

It seems there’s been a bit of a resurgence of printed stuff around lately. Have you any theories as to why this may be?

I think it’s fun and the network you create from it is really incredible.  A zine or a book is still such a nice way to get your work into a lot of people’s hands. The big art book fairs help too.

I also think people realized that while the internet is this amazing global network it isn’t going to totally replace things like seeing a band or a DJ live or visiting a museum or holding your friend’s zine.

In an e-mail you mentioned something called Giraffe zine. What was that?

Giraffe Brothers. It was a zine and web site by my friend Andrew Burton. I loved it so much. He made fun of local heroes, shot great photos, and posted about interesting things outside of BMX. It really opened my eyes to this world beyond pro BMXers. Not to mention the fact that you could be an adult but still do cool stuff every day.

I met Andrew when he took a photo of me at the best indoor skatepark ever (Skater’s Island). He published it on his web site and then we became friends. It was so simple and casual how we met, but him and his brother Dan totally changed my life. That sounds like hyperbole but it isn’t. I didn’t have an older sibling and Taunton, MA was kind of dead culturally.  A lot of my friends stopped riding or were starting full-time jobs and school. I started going to Boston any weekend I could and we would just pedal around riding amazing spots and eating awesome food. I honestly think of those guys as my older brothers. I wrote about them and tabletops a few years ago on this site Clicked BMX but it looks like that site is down.

What other riding zines are you into? And what non-riding ones do you like?

I’m into any BMX zine even if I don’t like it. BMX zines I’m into though would be Scerbo’s Scrappin’, my bud Matt Gaspar’s zines Hang’n Brain and your zines (not just saying that). I try to buy any BMX zines that come out. I’m admittedly not as interested in BMX media as I used to be though. I just think it is cool that people make anything—they are contributing because they think they have an opinion or an idea. That’s a nice thought and is just inspiring.

For non-riding zines, I like Jocko Weyland’s Elk, my friend Daniella’s redrawn copies of magazines like US Weekly and Sports Illustrated and this guy Kevin in Chicago has a cool publishing project called Nonporous. I like a lot of the stuff he puts out.

Quite a few new zines just seem to be printed out tumblr pages… just photo after photo with nothing to read or no extra sauce added. Do you think people should put a bit more effort in?

Bahaha. It depends, that zine Elk I mentioned before was kind of like Tumblr before Tumblr, just a bunch of cool shit aggregated from different people and sources. It’s a nice collection. And I love photo zines or at least have fallen back in love with making and looking at them. There could definitely be some extra sauce added though—there’s so many cool options for printing, binding, format and paper selection.

I liked that Schweppes thing you did recently. There’s a standout bit hoiked from ol’ Spike Jonze in there. Do you reckon Spike ever wishes he could cast off the shackles of fame and bust out a boned-out backside-boneless on a dusty flatbank again?

Thanks. It was fun to put together a BMX zine again. I would imagine anyone who could make a backside boneless look as cool as Spike did in that photo you are talking about would wish they could be transported back to that time. Tough call about casting off the shackles of fame though, dude probably lives a pretty cool life even I don’t really care for his stuff now.

Maybe Sofia Coppola’s portrayal of him in Lost in Translation would be more reason to swear off fame?

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The aforementioned Spike Jonze photo. Photographer unknown.

Bit of a dweeb question this one, but I’m interested… how do you go about putting together your zines? Is it mostly laid out on a computer or is there some real life collage in there too? Where do you start? And do you fear the blank page?

I basically use only a computer now. I used to do a lot of scanned text and I still think that can work but I’m just really interested in learning how to manipulate computer programs similar to how I manipulated other old, slower technologies—like photocopiers. I feel like a tech bro saying this but the possibilities really are endless on a computer.

I wasn’t formally trained as a designer so I just try and use search engines to find tutorials on things I’m trying to do. There’s not much real-life collage in Schweppes or anything I’ve made in a while.

When I start I usually just do the tedious part of going through tons of photographs and collecting source images. Like for Schweppes I scanned a lot of images from a Greek sculpture book—there’s no real reason other than I liked the images. I also lifted some scans of some other modern/minimal art I like from Noguchi, Anthony Caro, and Mies Van Der Rohe.

Then I started clicking around in the program and experimenting. I spent a lot of time with some subtle layering—I don’t think I’d actually like making a painting but I like the idea of layering like a painter on the computer. And, no, I don’t fear the blank page, it’s fun.

Why do you think there is such strong correlation between people who make zines, and people who do footplants and wear vans shoes?

BAHAHAHAHA, unreal question. Not sure about the correlation. I was into punk and hardcore and Vans were a fashion staple in that scene that worked well for BMX.  Maybe that’s it? Or just being a little too steeped in nostalgia? The footplant thing is a tough one. Maybe cuz people who make zines are kind of into punk or hardcore and in turn kind of into older BMX and skate photos and see cool footplant photos?

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Desktop surf shot by Coleman Lopes.

What are your thoughts on all the people whinging about ‘the state of BMX’?

I think it is annoying. I’m guilty, but the best part about BMX is that no one needs a history lesson and there’s no rules—kids can do whatever they want. There’s some straight up offensive stuff going down but it’s fine, kids are doing what they want just like kids did what they wanted in the 00’s. It’s easy to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses but people hated on so much shit in the early-to-mid 00’s that is ‘cool’ now… e.g. Ratboy.

I do know that I hate ‘kids these days’ rants and comments on these Instagram accounts from the mid school like ‘so and so rode like a man’, or ‘knew what he was doing’. That stuff is just so annoying.  People don’t have to like every aspect of BMX and no one is going to come after your prized tabletop.

I sometimes think a lot of interviews with people who ride often forget to talk about the actual riding, so to combat this… what’s your favourite trick? And what was the best riding sesh you’ve ever had?

My favorite tricks are wallrides and tabletops—I know, real surprise. I have been having so much fun finding new lines at concrete parks. Also, I’ve been into pedal grinds again lately—they feel so good. I don’t really do that many actual tricks but if a jump feels right I would actually take limbs off and do my only cool jumping trick- a one-footed tire grab.

The best session is really tough. I’ve had some of the best sessions riding Wilson skatepark here in Chicago.  I’m embarrassed to say, but at 30 I’ve spent full eight hour days there in the summer.  It’s right next to the lake so you can go jump in and come back and ride.  It’s great.

I think the closest I can come to having a ‘best’ session ever would probably be a full-day spent riding with Luis Pinzon. He’s a doctor and when we both lived in LA he was doing his residency so he had crazy hours. If he had a full weekend day off he would send you a text the night before telling you to be at his house by 8am and the day was planned—a SoCal skatepark tour fuelled by Coors Light tall cans, the Hypnotize Minds music catalog, and burritos. Then he’d make you drive his FJ Cruiser home while he sipped a Heineken from a gas station soda cup.

I just went to Austin for the first time this winter and even though I was not in a good mental state I had some great sessions, largely due to my friend Matt Gaspar’s humor.

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Table snap by Paulo Cabral.

You live in Chicago. Have you ever bumped into bald-headed crooner Billy Corgan or the child-like scamp Brian Kachinsky?

I’ve never bumped into Corgan, although I think he has a tea room or something in the North suburbs. I see Kachinsky a decent amount. He’s one of the nicest guys and does a lot of awesome stuff for BMX in Chicago. He’s a class act and not afraid to bring a shit-load of hot dogs and a case of Old Style to a skatepark BBQ for everyone’s enjoyment.

Considering Chicago is a pretty big city, I don’t really know much about it. Can you tell us a bit about it?

It can be depressing in the winter but luckily I have interests other than BMX. The main spots for me are the cement parks: Wilson and 31st St., and the trails, the Garden. I like cruising around the streets from time to time and also riding Grant Park which is the new plaza. I’ve only ridden it once but it was at night with a load of good friends and a lot of beers flowing.

There’s loads of other good stuff to ride if you feel like driving an hour or so- places like Willow St. trails (big shout out to Quaggy) and 4Seasons in Milwaukee has one of the best indoor bowls I’ve ever ridden.  There’s a solid crew here and the bike shop Let’s Roast just re-opened so you can always head over there to meet up with people.  It’s a good scene.

Outside of riding I guess it’s like every other major city- easy to see art and music events.  During the summer it’s sick cuz you can just go for a quick bike ride to swim. I’ve never lived in any cities like that before. It’s cool how pumped people get on summer here- it’s really good, the vibes around town are just amazing.  People seriously get amnesia in regards to how bad the winters are.

The art stuff going on is cool and I enjoy checking out that stuff especially when the weather is off.  Chicago has a sick music scene and I don’t take advantage of it as much as I could. Every sort of underground show is happening- hardcore/punk, dance music, rap—anyone can find a really sick niche.

What are your thoughts on riders who don’t have outside interests? I often feel this is quite dangerous and might be the reason so many riding videos are really rubbish. 

Part of me loves that when you are like 16 or 17 you can be so one-track minded and obsessed with one thing, I know I was like that with BMX. I was just talking to a friend about this the other day, actually. I think that obsessive, BMX rat attitude is awesome and sometimes I’m envious of friends in their mid-20s that still feel that way.

But part of me wishes I would have chilled a bit when I was in high school—I wish I had run track or played more basketball—I mean it all works out but what I’ve realized now is that the key to longevity with anything is making sure you don’t burn yourself out. I’ve done that—by the time I was 18/19 I was ready to put more energy towards college and art and I became super absorbed into that for a while and then burnt out on it.

But right now I think I’m finding that perfect balance of activities outside of BMX and to answer your question—yes, I think it is dangerous. Outside interests help you not see the world in such a bubble and help you recognize that while BMX is this amazing thing (sorry, not trying to get too circa ’03 Dig emotional), it’s kind of stupid and useless too. And you’re right, it breeds an echo chamber where videos, clothes and the lifestyle look exactly alike.

With that said, there’s times when people just blatantly rip-off outside influences and think it is new because the audience is BMX. Or they rip-off outside influences and feel like they are pioneering something—like introducing BMXers to ‘beautiful Swiss design’ and it just seems self-righteous and condescending.

Am I right in saying that you also do a radio show? I always thought that would be a laugh. Have you got any tips for making it in the wireless world? And do you do phone-ins?

You are correct, although it is internet only. I’m a librarian at an art school here in the city and they have an internet only radio station. It is super fun and the internet only thing was helpful in getting over any broadcast fears.

I don’t really have any tips other than if you have any interest, seek out a local radio station or just do a podcast with your friends. After a good show you get an awesome feeling—it definitely pumps endorphins into your system—kind of like a good BMX session. I haven’t experimented with phone-ins but I have the capability to do it. I want to.

I think it’s funny that although loads of new technology has come along, people still listen to the radio all day. Why is the radio so good? And what songs get the best reaction?

I don’t know why people love the radio so much. I like it a decent amount. I usually listen to news in the morning and in the afternoon, depending on what I’m doing. As far as music on the radio I usually save that for my car. I think the fact you don’t have to pick something or make a decision- someone is doing it for you certainly helps make radio interesting. The best reaction was the southern hip-hop show I did. Lots of interactions via the chat and social media. As Paul Wall would say, “I got the internet going nuts.”

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got. Have you got any wise words to finish this with?

One time I read an interview with Shaun Butler and he said if you’re stressed about something, just think about two weeks away—everything will probably pass by then.

Get Nick’s latest zine here.

Interview: Clarky

Andrew ‘Andy’ Clarke spitting spiel on Strangeways 3… AND MORE!

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Your new video is called Strangeways Volume 3. Why did you decide on this name?

It’s pretty tenuous and boring but all the other vids had references to The Smiths in their titles. Gaz came up with the title for Attention Stalybridge which was meant to be an etched message on the lead out matrix of a Smiths record and The Wythenshawe Waltz was a message etched onto the Meat is Murder record.

I just thought it was good with its Greater Manchester connections so I called the next one Strangeways because of the Strangeways Here We Come album. Plus I really like that whole area of Manchester, it’s a weird place with a massive prison and all sorts of aggy 90s behaviour going on.  I wanted to make a video that had a bit of that and was like an old 90s mixtape which is where the volume side of things came from.

Tommy Gore had this record that he showed me years ago made by the prisoners of Strangeways and the album art was a massive decider too. The covers on the videos are just complete rip offs of that album cover.

Apart from me, who is the best rider on Strangeways Volume 3?

It’s a three way toss-up between Tommy Gore, Leo McKenna and Mini.

What is your favourite clip in the video… AND WHY?

Sandy did that raspberry ripple hop near my house which was sick. There is one of Leo hopping into this tranny in a bad area of Paris we found ourselves in which required covert entry, execution and exit.

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Do you find it irritating that you can’t film yourself?

Massively, but I’ve got to keep the ego in check somehow.

Was it hard to get clearance rights for the music?

I scored the soundtrack myself in the back room on the 1z and 2z m8 so no problemo.

It’s been rumoured that you sometimes turn clips black and white to disguise dodgy garments. Any wardrobe offenders this time round?

I’ve not done it but I advised Addy to do so with some footage I gave him for his video. No one wants to see garish trousers or hi-viz woolly hats. I have left clips out of a video due to weird haircuts that I think look stupid though. I think others should do this too so we don’t have to see spice boy gym body nonces in videos any more.

You’ve travelled the globe for this video, filming in such exotic locations as Paris, Madrid, Scotland and Rochdale. Have you any notable stories from these adventures you’d like to share?

We wandered into a bad suburb in Paris, proper La Haine style gaff that had the greatest spot I’d ever seen, tranny banks everywhere, metal topped tranny ledges, the works. We didn’t get to ride it properly because we got told to leave by the large group of men that were posted up in there.

It’s raw over there when you get into those suburbs. It’s the best place I’ve been to ride. Cookie came with us and he had a treasure map that he had from previous trips there which helped us massively.

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On the subject of other places… your videos have quite a big following on mainland Europe. Why do you think this is? And who are your top three harsh Euro riders at the minute?

I don’t know but I like it. Maybe because we all have shit spots and bad weather and crap teeth and make the most out of it. That’s why I like certain stuff — because its obtainable.

I like LL Leopold and his cousin Eman from Croatia, they sold their baby gold for bike parts and I love that kind of dedication.

You’ve recently had double-glazing fitted in your editing-suite. How has this affected your life?

Best thing I’ve ever bought. The back bedroom was damp and freezing and was quite a miserable place to be while trying to make a video. Clothes never dried in there, damp smell, I had enough of putting a towel on the window sill to dry the condensation. Thanks to my old man and Mike from next door for fitting them. Well recommended.

You often like to edit on your laptop whilst sat in your car. Do you ever get mistaken for a computer hacker breaking into security mainframes?

It’s just to alleviate the boredom at work. I’d sooner sit in the car like a weirdo and edit on my dinner hour than sit with all the moaning blokes chatting on about car insurance or the receptionist’s tits for the hundredth time while eating a scummy ham sandwich that their ugly Mrs made for them.

Mouse or touchpad?

Mouse in the back room, touchpad in the Kia.

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Some yank gimp commented that they could do better riding in their sleep than what was featured on the promo. With that in mind, have you ever fallen asleep whilst riding your bicycle?

I haven’t but I reckon I could, maybe that would impress the little virgin.

I once had a dream where I was really shredding some trails doing mint table-tops and Dig-style motions over massive Posh-esque doubles. Have you ever had a dream about riding? And what is your dream bike?

Never a night dream but I day dream at work about riding and how to piece together lines. I sound like a wacko, but because work is so boring my mind wanders and I think about my route to town and map out lines in my head then as soon as I finish work I’m out and feel free. It’s pretty much all I think about.

My dream bike would be a chrome ‘96 Diamondback Venom, big gel seat, high lay back seat post, forward bars, bull bars, permanent lock on the frame that I’ve lost the key for and a mudguard. No one is fuckin with you on that thing.

Going back a few years now, it might be said that The Wythenshawe Waltz is the best riding video ever made (along with All Day). Is your new video better or worse than this?

Cheers. It’s well worse. Wivvy Waltz was a dream to make, everything before and since was a hassle. I’d put them in this order:

  1. Wythenshawe Waltz
  2. Strangeways Vol 2
  3. Attention Stalybridge
  4. Strangeways Vol 3
  5. Strangeways Vol 1

Both The Wythenshawe Waltz and Tomorrow We Work have the same initials. Is this is a coincidence?

I wish I was that subversive, complete coincidence.

Imagine you’re trapped for eternity in a cargo container with no windows, doors or light. You’re fed regularly and you’ve got a toilet, but apart from that your only entertainment is a widescreen TV playing a single BMX video on a loop. Your choice of videos is this… Wethepeople Lit, Kink Intervention or whatever that new Volume one was called. The TV/DVD combi is made of very strong material so it can’t be smashed. What video do you choose to watch for the rest of your life?

All pretty tasteless videos, I didn’t know why or what I was watching apart from the Jason Enns bit. I’d go on a Bobby Sands style hunger strike and dirty protest facing the wall with my hands over my ears till I snuffed it.

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Talking of other videos… what riding videos do you like to watch when you’re not watching your own?

Animal All Day is my most played, Nails in the Coffin, Skapegoat 6, Jim Newrick’s last few videos are works of art, Tomorrow We Work, 90 East stuff, that Skavenger vid with the Dave McDermott section is mint. It’s been the same for years. I try and get hold of crew videos that people have made off their own backs too.

Not a bike video but I watch Blueprint’s Waiting for the World and Lost and Found more than any bike videos. WFTW especially has been my biggest influence. Grim UK spots, top music and it showed me that it’s not all about stair counts, section enders, dramatic fade to blacks and check-me-out slo-mo’s.

A few decent videos have come out lately like Newrick’s and the Flukelife one. Why is it that everyone’s videos come out at the same time? Is everyone synchronised like when girls live in the same house and merge body-clocks?

Yeah it seems that way, they all come out at a similar time. Marv’s is coming out too. Just the video menstrual cycle that I hope never ends.

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Outside of the world of riding and skating videos, you’ve also got pretty substantial ‘movie-film’ DVD collection. Have you seen any good films lately? 

Not much at the cinema lately but I just re-watched Pumping Iron, a documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early years which was fantastic. Been going through some old box sets over the winter mostly, Sopranos got a re-watch and I’m currently ploughing through Curb your Enthusiasm again. I agree with Tommy Gore’s outlook that, “life is better when you’ve got a boxset on the go.”

Although you’re ‘synonymous’ with Manchester, you’re actually from Stockport. Who is your favourite under-the-gaydar Stockport rider? And what’s your favourite deceased Stocky spot?

 There was always a steady flow of characters through Bones skatepark. Stockport borders loads of places and Bones was a melting pot of flavours. From the more rural bumpkin mad heads of Macclesfield, to the raw scally lads from Longsight and Moston. But since we’re talking about actual Stockport my top Stocky heads are two of my best mates:

1) Tommy Gore — we’ve been childhood bmx sweethearts since we first met on Manchester Road Park aged 15. He had a chrome Mongoose and yellow Slam Bars and did wicked wheelies. I enjoy his company greatly.

2) Gaz Hunt — he’s like the John Virgo of BMX. I’ve been in awe of his trickery and natural balance for years. We ride all the time together and nothing has changed since we were 16.

Although we didn’t ride them as much as we should, there were these mint red brick tranny banks near Debenhams in Stockport town centre. People would come from all over if they were still there. The top deceased Stocky spot would have to be the rugged Bones sk8 park — that’s where I grew up and met almost everyone I know.

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“Tommy gore doing a manny on Debenhams tranny around 2005ish. Only known record”

How do you feel about being pigeon-holed into the burgeoning pole-jam/storm-door/Ted Danson wall-ride scene even though you can also slay the trails and schralp concrete like Skateskull himself?

It’s a bit weird because I’ve probably only ridden about three storm doors in my life. I do enjoy a poley j though; I thought they looked rad after seeing big Skerbz doing them in the Skav vid and when the rat did that barspin one in Left/Right. I just wanted to be like them on my home turf.

On the subject of Skateskull, does he have a section in da video?

I forgot to put him in. The Skate Skull was sick, he was close to 60 years old, long flowing grey hair under his mesh hat, ripping up a big bowl, spliff in his mouth and nice as pie. That’s how I want to be when I’m that old. I want to go back up to Scotland and film a bowl section of him if he’s still alive.

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Videos… interviews… trips around the world… what next for Andrew Clarke?

Hopefully a bit of fishing, followed by a mini-ramp session at Platt Fields and a curry after with the missus.

In the critically acclaimed Urban Mist 3 you can be heard stating that after riding you want to, “Go fishing and have a dog.” You’ve since taken up fishing. Can you tell us your best tale from the riverbank? And what’s the biggest fish you’ve caught so far?

Not got a dog yet but it’s on the cards. Best thing was bagging my first carp, it was a pretty magical moment — a similar feeling to doing your first handrail. Not caught anything massive yet, probably around the 5/6lbs mark. It’s a decent size considering the puddle I fish at is an old bleach works pit full of bin bags and shopping trolleys.

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I’m not particularly good at fishing, and so far in my illustrious career I’ve caught nothing. Have you got any tips?

I’ve not been doing it that long but I found that keeping it simple and having a comfy chair works a treat.

That’s all I’ve got. Any wise words you’d like to pass on?

“I’m just happy being dumpy. Dumpy, fat and middle-aged.”

The Strangeways Volume 3 prem is fairly soon. Here’s the flyer…

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Interview: Addy Snowdon

Grindmaster Flash on his new vid, old vidz and safety in the home…

img962You’ve just finished your new video. Although I own a copy and have watched it quite a few times, I’m going to ask you a few questions from the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen it…

Can you tell us a bit about this video? Who is in it? Who isn’t in it? What’s the oldest clip? Is there any interesting facts about it that you’d like to divulge?

The second Flukelife DVD is imaginatively called Flukelife Issue 2. It took longer than I care to think about to make but it’s done now. It’s a video of a few Liverpool locals doing our best.

There’s sections from Matt Glover, Dan Roper/Matty Lambert, Minney/Mini, me/myself and the Strangeways squad, that includes you Sam. Plenty of other people make an appearance in the mixed sections, but not everyone. I won’t bore you with a list of those who don’t feature.

First clip captured was of me I’m afraid; 24th March 2013, 7:47pm. It was a little red handrail I clambered over the top of instead of using the traditional technique.

An interesting factoid is that one of the songs I used has previously been used in one of Marv’s DVDs. I’ve seen all of Marv’s DVDs but for whatever reason, my memory let me down. Since being made aware of this I’ve been reading up on the well-defined etiquette of BMX video song ownership and have had many sleepless nights worrying about how many UK street heet points I’ve lost.

Who is Ste?

Ste arrives, Ste conquers, and Ste vanishes. In a world where everything is documented, Ste shuns the limelight and chooses to exist only as an intangible memory.

What’s your editing set-up? Laptop or desktop? What chair do you use? Do you ever drink and edit or do you like to keep a clear head?

I use a Dell(boy) laptop with additional monitor, keyboard and mouse. The chair is an IKEA wheeled swivel type. At first I doubted the use of wheels on laminate flooring; dangerous mouse and keyboard slippages can ensue, but this one works fantastically. The bearings are designed to operate smoothly but with appropriate resistance under the weight of an editor, and lock the chair into position on the floor when you stand.

I tried the drinking and editing thing but when I came back for a sober review, I realised that my sight and hearing must have gone out of synchronisation so I had to repeat work. It’s been all about staying teetotal and focussed since then.

Going back to the beginning, what first attracted you to the exciting world of BMX? And what was the best place to ride when you were growing up?

Wheelies on a mountain bike always interested me. I had a brief switch to BMX in ’99 when I bought a second hand Diamond Back, but I couldn’t wheelie it the same as the Kona Hahana. I also bent the Diamond Back forks, so I was back on the Kona until around June 2000.

The turning point was a day at Chorley race track when I snapped one side of my Rock Shox. I remember the oil in the forks had a distinctly carrot-like smell. Fork damage seemed to haunt me for a while, which is surprising as I only weighed about 5 stone at the time and have never had a problem since.

Anyway, after a go on my mate’s ‘goose, I made the switch and promptly bought a second hand Dyno XR with money I earned on my paper round; perhaps an obsolete occupation now?

It was all about dirt jumps for a while. The best places where the doubles at the bomb hole, and the doubles by Champion Spark Plugs. Champion’s has now closed and been replaced by an Oak Furniture Land, which is a great shame and a sign of the decline of British industry. On the street side of things, there was a good wall outside Threshers and a couple of good four sets locally. I’m rambling now.

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Still got it m8. Frankie Boyle was impressed too…

A fair few videos have come out of Liverpool over the years. Can you give us a full run-down of Liverpool (and surrounding areas) riding videos?

The videos I’m aware of are as follows:

The Nettles Summer 1997, (thanks to Lee Williams for that one)

Deth Crüe edit by Sidwell, 2001, perhaps 2002.

Ruffride VHS tapes by Marcus, 2001-2002 era.

Fire in the Hole by Tom Pimlott, CD-R format only, 2003.

Push the Button by Tom Pimlott, only 2 copies in existence, 2004.

2006 by 9’s by Matty Lambert, 2005

What Ya Lookin’ at? by Matty Lambert, 2006

Section in Shook, Over the Pond, Chad Shackleberg, 2007

Nonstopvid, by Matty Lambert, 2007

Section in One More Brew, by Matty Lambert, 2008

B-Team Grindhog Day, by Tom Pimlott, 2009/10

B-Team Episode 2, me, 2012

Flukelife Issue 1, filmed by Mini, edited by me, 2014

Flukelife Issue 2, erlojwspeomfewepm (ran out of steam)

Liverpool has some well-known exports, but who are your favourite Liverpool riders who went under the media radar?

Richie Pettman, you’ll see him in the above video at The Nettles. He’s from the Wirral actually but then so am I, so he’s getting mentioned. There are others I could mention but some could be considered to be of questionable character these days so I’ll stop now before I dig a hole for myself.

In the last few years Liverpool and Manchester have put their differences aside for some cracking Saturday rides. When did you first ride in Manchester? And what is your favourite Oasis song?

I’m glad we were all able to put aside our differences and integrate. First time riding in Manchester was with Loz Taylor, perhaps in ’05. I was there for a couple of days and it rained the whole time but we still went out riding. I’m a bit more fussy about weather conditions these days. Loz invited Clarky and Tommy Gore over to Liverpool soon after that; that was the first time I met those two. It rained that day as well.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” is a good one. Going back to paper rounds, my brother’s mate who lived up our road used to return from his round singing Oasis songs at the top of his voice on his own on a weekend morning. I could hear him wandering up the road wailing when I was still in bed.

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Tom, Gaz and Addy during the early days of North-West synergy.

What’s Tom Pimlott up to these days? I remember he used to come over quite a bit with you.

Tom made an appearance at Tank’s birthday night out last Saturday. He lives in Leeds, plays music and works in a school. I gave him a copy of the new DVD and two days later he’d got a new frame, so he might be turning up on the riding scene again soon. Although I think he’s just bruised his hand boxing. 

How do you feel being the proverbial ‘designated driver’ of the Liverpool crew? Do you think Mini and Glover would still be clocking as much hot U.K. street fuego if you weren’t texting them bright and early on Saturday morning?

‘Designated driver’ is a role I have willingly assumed. I’m not big into the boozy nights so organising myself and completing my domestic tasks while others get a few extra hours in bed is not a problem.

I’ve been known to drop the ‘I’m going to [place], reply by [time] if you’re coming’ text. I feel this is a good approach, making people get up in time for the fuego, but throwing in a caveat that allows me to leave when I want to without feeling guilty about leaving someone behind if they’ve gone and got themselves into a particularly bad state. Perhaps things would be different without my early morning texts, it’s hard to say.

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Assertive brick wallride from sensual lover Matty Glover.

You do some fairly Vinnie Sammon-esque quake-damage style moves in your section. Have you ever considered doing an over-ice-pick whilst wearing a large chain around your neck or doing a rail with a cowboy hat on your head? And what are your thoughts on those weird looking bright red foil tray meals that he is often seen eating?

I’m not the only one who spotted that hat then. No, as you know Sam, I don’t like to accessorise too heavily, so if I turned up in such a chain I’d struggle to act like there wasn’t an elephant in the room, or around my neck in this case. Also, matters on Merseyside have improved dramatically but back in Y2K you’d be leaving without the chain in some areas, so I think that’s influenced my lack of chain and neck ice. I think Vinnie looks more intimidating than me to potential chain thieves though so he could pull it off.

Not entirely sure about the tray meals, tikka masala without the rice perhaps? I’d be willing to try one if it improved my ability to place the back peg in ever more awkward positions.

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On the subject of food, what’s your favourite Subway sandwich?

12″ Italian BMT, Italian herbs and cheese bread, cheese and toasted, all the salad, sweet onion relish. First half at 13:00, second at 15:30.

When did you first meet Mini. And has he always had longer than average shins?

 I’m going to say ’07, back when Mini’s shins were shorter. Since then Mini has got a lot taller, largely down to shin growth.

We shouldn’t laugh at anyone suffering from disproportionately long shins though as it’s not without its problems. When watching television in a standard armchair, for example, it can be difficult for a person with this problem to see past their own knees.

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Shins in full effect.

Your job involves testing electronic equipment. Is this beneficial when it comes to filming with decades-old cameras and the general electronical, technological hassle of making a video?

Luckily I’ve not had to get involved in the nitty gritty of old camera electronics repair. There was a slight accident Matty L had while filming with my camera which ended up with both Matty and my camera skidding across some gravel. Luckily the damage to Matty and the camera was superficial.

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Lambert and Butler jam-up-2-manny-down on William Baker’s favourite wheel of steel.

Have you any tips for staying safe whilst enjoying electrical equipment in the home?

 Just don’t poke inside the toaster with cutlery and be careful with hair dryers near the bath, the rest is just common sense.

There’s a lot of shit videos around at the moment but it seems like there’s still a few gems in amongst the pile. Which videos do you like watching?

Newrick and Clarky make good ones, I like watching those. The Skapegoat and 90East videos are good too. All of these look like they’ve come from normal riding sessions; that’s what I like in a video.

When I watch a video and I know each clip took three hours of mental torture, and everyone else who was present was bored and sick of having their day ruined, that doesn’t inspire me to ride. It’s a farce really; they wouldn’t spend three hours if there wasn’t a clip to watch at the end.

Which videos suck?

All of the skate plaza ones with people talking nonsense in them. I can identify them before I press play now so no longer a problem.

Any sightings of Chester Blacksmith lately? And how did your recent sesh with Leigh Ramsdell go?

Chet hasn’t visited Liverpool for a few years now as far as I know. I had thought the days of sporadic visits from professional riders were over, until Leigh turned up at Rampworx on a bleak mid-winter Sunday. From a brief chat he seemed like a decent bloke. I didn’t get to see the infamous tree flair though.

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The seldom-seen one-handed double-peg. Not sure if this was intentional…

You’ve pioneered some fairly prog grind movements over the years. Is there any combination you’ve yet to conquer?

 The Xbox 360 is one I’ve failed to land so far. To the layperson, that’s an X-up grind to opposite 360. I don’t think I ever will land that one. It seems like it would take a long time to do and my days of trying any trick for more than 20 minutes are over.

Favourite Rampworxxx obstacle (past or present)?

Without a doubt it’s Percy; a small sub box, now replaced by the resi roll in. It was named Percy to avoid having to describe what it was and its location in the skatepark, and it worked well. I think more spots should have names, or even better, numbers.

I’ve thought of giving every spot in Liverpool number before, to avoid the arduous task of having to describe which spot you mean; instead you could say, ‘let’s ride spot 12 today’, ‘ok, yeah, meet you there’.

I think I’ve ran out of questions now. Have you got any words of wisdom to pass on?

I don’t think there’s anything left to say, I’ve covered it all.

Flukelife Issue 2 is available now from all good newsagents… AND HERE

Interview: Alex Appleby

Shootin’ the breeze with fellow Ulverston extremist Alex Appleby.

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Sources indicate you started skating at a fairly early age. How old were you when you started? 

I think I was around nine years old. I remember getting a book about skating from a second hand bookshop and thought it looked amazing. This was also the same time the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out.

Me and Jordan (Watson), who lived across the street, started at the same time and used to push each other to learn tricks. My first memory was probably bombing the hill outside my house on a Sonic the Hedgehog kick-tail.

Ulverston had a pretty burgeoning X-treme scene in the mid-2000s considering it’s a small market town on the edge of the Lake District with zero grindable surfaces. Why do you think this was?

God knows. There were a lot of older skaters like Ben Kermode who may have partly paved the way. Barrow in Furness, up the road, always had a good scene from the early days of the Skate Shack, one of the first indoor skateparks in the country, so that might’ve had something to do with it.

It was crazy to think that such a run-down industrial area of an exceptionally isolated town was visited by Tony Hawk and Mark Gonzalez. I’d love to see their faces when they were taken up those steel stairs. Apart from that I have no idea.

Who are your top three Ulverston/South Lakes skaters? And why?

Will Appleby — was inspiring to see the transformation from a complete struggle to tech magician on a board. Switch heel 5-0s, nollie heel front nose at Lloyds in Bristol (probably the most rounded ledge in the UK), nollie 5-0 flip outs, frontside flips over big gaps. Love you pal.

Jordan/Ryan Watson — got into skating because of those two. Me and Jordan skated the most together. He was really talented and gnarly. See his section in Up North (West) for proof, which he filmed at the grand age of 14. Ryan was a true grafter on a board and took down some big handrails and stairs back in the day. He also had some horrific injuries and is now a professional boxer.

Ryan Zaccarini — pure natural talent and style from windy Walney. Absolutely killed Barrow as a youth.

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Will Appleby on one of the many BMX/Skateboard x-treme fusion jaunts to Lancaster. RIP Will. 

What are your top three classic Ulverston spots?

Stanley Street Health Centre (since knocked down and redone) — probably the first ‘spot’ I ever skated. There were loads of kids down every day dicking about and causing mischief. All there was was a wall and a giant electric box known as “The Box” that people used to leap off. Ryan (Watson) shattered his heel leaping off it in the thinnest shoes known to man after only a few week’s skating. I also met Pat Godbert down there for the first time on September 11th 2001. Make of that what you will haha.

Job Centre Wall — back in the early 2000s you could always find people skating here on a dry day despite it being, as you can tell by the name, just a wall. It was also one of the original Ulverston step-up spots. There was some serious backlash by the scene when they skate-stopped it weirdly enough.

Booths/Heron Glass Car Park — sick manual pads and loads of smooth flat with grindboxes when people could be arsed bringing them. My mate Ste (Fletcher) was the king of the pads. Sunday evenings in summer were the best.

Some classic Ulverstonian non-spots in this old gem.

Ulverston now has a purpose-built stunt zone, but it seems that there are no new skaters or riders there. Have you any theories as to why this is?

Aye I think the scene has pretty much died a death. I think it’s because all the older lads have all moved away and there’s no one to really look up to like when I was a kid. The new park is pretty good like but they built it about ten years too late. Barrow’s still got a strong scene with some talented young skaters but that’s about it.

What are your thoughts on fellow Cumbrian ex-pat Olly Todd?  I remember when I started at UVHS (the secondary school in Ulverston) there was a massive painting of him in the hall for some reason. 

Olly Todds class. Always been a big fan of his skating and the fact that he’s from Whitehaven. I actually have his pro board from when he road for Stereo on my wall at my parent’s house. He’s probably the only Cumbrian who will ever achieve that feat (the pro board not a space on my bedroom wall haha), although if I was him I would have definitely repped Cumbria a lot harder out in the States.

You and your brother have made a fair few videos over the years, and Will was making videos with his VX well before it was anything more than just a camera. Can you give us a full run-down of all the Appleby productions?

A Skate Odyssey: 2002

Informative Promo: 2003

Informative: 2004

Up North (West): 2007

Skateulv Vol 1-3: 2008-2009

Skateulv Vol 4: 2010

Alex Appleby and Owen Godbert City Series: 2011

Those Who’ve Sailed With Me: 2012

Snyde Park and the Curse of Brudenell Road: 2014

Please Shirley Anything but Burley: 2016

You’ve just finished your new video, Please Shirley, Anything but Burley. Who is Shirley?

Shirley doesn’t exist. The name is a bit of a rip from that John Cooper Clarke poem ‘I don’t ever want to go to Burnley’. So Shirley is there purely for rhyme purposes. Although I’m sure that phrase has been uttered a few time before in the Leeds area.

Making videos is a complete hassle. Did you have any video-based faff whilst making this?

Not really, it was a very mellow process. The vids only a combination of footage from Feb 2015-Feb 2016 then thrown together in a month or so. I don’t think anyone even knew I was doing it. The biggest faff was people wanting to film stuff at the last minute then having to re-edit the street section to fit it in.

How did you meet XXXL sportswear aficionado and all-round rude-dude Jambul? Have you got any good stories of his exploits?

I met Jambul up Hyde Park last summer after he’d done his back in and started skating again. Every time I’ve been out with him there’s something wild.

Some good ones are going skating with him round Bradders and him taking us to the maddest spots like a storm door down an alley behind a takeaway in Manningham. The owners chucked water out the door to try and stop us skating. He still got his line though.

Skitching double decker buses on the busiest streets in Manchester and filming a line through the pissed masses outside Tiger Tiger starting inside a chicken shop up the road.

Last Halloween he smashed his head open skating the House bowl jam after being on a bender for two days. He drank a beer instead of going to A+E. Apparently he bought more booze in the Co-op with blood pouring from his head. Probably the only night of the year he could’ve got away with it.

After a few years in Manchester, you now live in Leeds. How’s that going for you? Do you go to The Works much? Does The Works still exist?

Yeah it’s going alright really. Got a new job now, which is good. Skating wise a lot of rad people have left, which is a bit of a shame. Street skating pretty can be difficult sometimes as most of the well-known spots are completely rinsed and knackered these days. There is a really good new D.I.Y. though for those in the know.

As for the Works, it definitely still exists. I’ve only been a couple of times since I’ve been in town. I always forget it’s there.

You have a fairly extensive knowledge of skate videos. What was your favourite when you were 11? And what’s your favourite now?

At 11, the Blueprint vid Waiting for The World, without a shadow of a doubt. Me and Will bought it blindly from Kates Skates in Barrow when we were nine. Proper lucked out like. It’s still my favourite to this day.  Was such a massive influence in everything — skating, music etc. I remember thinking before I watched it, “There better be some flip tricks in this,” then seeing the first line in Scott Palmer’s section — ollie in tre fakie. Buzzing.

Can’t think of anything too recent that’s grabbed me. Probably the latest Scottish scene videos like Overcast or Street Snacks 3. Raw as owt.

Which videos suck?

Anything with shite music and repetitive zoomed in shots of people smoking cigs in slow motion.

You’re also pretty handy with a photo camera. Have you been taking many photographs lately? What sort of photographs do you like? 

Cheers man, that’s nice of you to say. Yeah I’m always taking bits and bobs. I’ve finally learnt to always carry my camera whenever possible. I’ve recently finished a mini-project on the aftermath of the floods in Leeds. I knew they were bad but now the whole canal bank seems like a huge modern-art sculpture.

I like photos that try and get under the fingernails of places. I’m massively influenced by people like Robert Frank and his famous book ‘The Americans’. I don’t think he could’ve summed up America in any truer sense than what he accomplished in that book.

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Mid-winter trip to Barrow’s golden arches. 2010?

You now work in the world of social care. I imagine this is the sort of thing you can’t say too much about, but can you give us a quick idea of what a usual day at work is like?

Nah it’s pretty chilled really. I work in a shared house with people with learning difficulties. A normal day would be checking the handover from whoever was left on shift then supporting the tenants to do whatever they need to do during the day.

I’m lucky that most of the lads are pretty independent and can go out on their own so just need help with medication and cooking really. You also do sleep-ins which means you’re on call until around 8am the next day in case anything happens during the night.

You used to work at a boat hire place on Windermere. Have you got any good stories from this time? Did anyone ever sink a boat?

Christ I’ve got an unreal amount. Sorry if I go on a bit. I actually wrote a mini-book in the last couple of months of working there to try and clear my head of it all. I’ll try and sum it up as best I can.

That place was crazy. It was a summer of madness despite how it sounds on paper. On the busiest days of the season you could spend ten hours knowing that if you so much as went to the toilet that part of the pier would descend into total chaos. The boat-hire department seemed to attract a lot of middle-aged madheads who were on the cusp of retirement or, as one put it, “I’ve had my time in the real world.”

My favourite was a man known as Staveley Steve (originally from Wythenshawe, Manchester) who should never have been allowed to work in customer service. A lot of the time he tried to put the customers off renting the boats by berating them. Here’s a few examples of his interactions with the general public…

“How much are the boats?”

“23 pounds if you’re daft enough to go out in them.”

“Please can we have one of the self-drive motorboats?”

“Are you mad?”

There were loads of mad happenings as people came from all over during the summer period to act like daft bastards.

The previous summer, one of the seasonal workers, who was a total meathead, threw a scally into the lake after him and his cronies stole one of the boats. Shortly after a sign appeared on the front door of the shop that read ‘NO SCOUSERS’. As you could imagine it didn’t go down too well.

The same summer a colossal sized man lost it on one of the self-drives. It was suspected that he was claustrophobic and ended up ripping the roof off to break free (the boats were barely big enough for normal sized adults). He got towed back by a random boat and then trapped the manager and one of the workers, a chap called Billy, down the pier and started screaming at them. The manager gave him his money back but the man threw it back in his face. Billy said that he was afraid that the man was going to, “Bray them to splinters,” but it turned out that this was only because he was wearing some new glasses and didn’t want them damaging.

Almost unbelievably, there were no major accidents while I was there. Although two Japanese tourists were inches away from getting decapitated by one of the huge steamers and there were a couple of Indiana Jones style rescues that took place.

Final question… brown cords or grey sweatpants?

Always cords for the win!

 

Interview: Ray Potes

High-brow chit-chat with Hamburger Eyes photo-lord Ray Potes.

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What’s a normal day like for the man named Ray Potes?

Lately I’ve been busy, but that’s not normal. So a normal day is wake up, drink some tea and have some breakfast. Go for a swim in the ocean, then lunch, then work on Hamburger Eyes stuff until I need to run errands or until night time. Then dinner and movies at home or dinner and drinks out and about.

What’s your earliest memory?

I remember my first day of first grade. I felt fine, but I remember some kids crying and other kids puking and freaking out.

The first issue of Hamburger Eyes came out in 2001. What was life like back then? Have things changed at all?

It was pre-computers. I made zines with scissors and tape and darkroom prints and copiers. Now I do everything with my phone and a laser printer.

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What was the first issue like? 

It was funny. It was meant to be mostly photos of my friends and just people in general. I think that’s why people liked it and I kept it going.

What’s the secret to eternal life in the cut-throat world of paper and staples?

Haha, I never thought I would make it this far. I think every time I tried to end it, the photographers and friends and family fan the flames and get me going again. If there is a secret, I say it’s just to stay busy.

What’s the best photograph you’ve ever taken? What makes a good photograph?

I don’t know. My best selection would be very different from what someone else might select from my photos. Also, I think my tastes change over time, for instance, a photo that I really liked five years ago might actually be super lame nowadays.

I think what makes a good photo is timing—not the timing of the shot, but the timing of the viewer’s viewership.

What’s your usual tactic for taking photos of strangers? Sneaky spy cam or the ol’ wave ‘n’ smile?

It’s a little of both depending on the situation. If it’s hectic out, I will just be blasting. If it’s a calm situation, I can introduce myself and hang out a bit.

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This is maybe a bit of a camera dweeb question… but have you got any tips for success under the red light of the darkroom?

Yeah, I don’t think enough people go to museums or give themselves the opportunity to actually look at beautifully made prints. I think you need to look at a lot of prints, and then try to make your prints look like that. And if you can’t, then find someone that can show you.

I see a ton of prints and 90% of them are printed horribly. They will try to say it is part of the aesthetic but I say you didn’t get through basic training yet.

What photographs are you tired of seeing? 

At first I wanna say that I can tell if a person has been shooting for a long time, or if they are just starting out. But I would rather say that I can tell if someone has found their rhythm or if they are still figuring it out. Some people catch their signature style very quickly, with others it can take a life time. So, to answer your question, I don’t think you are ready to submit to a magazine after your first roll of film.

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What is Zine Kong?

I started Zine Kong with some friends as a way to help distribute their zines, my zines, and other people’s zines. I was sort of doing this on the Hamburger Eyes site, but it became cluttered and I kept meeting new publishers I liked. So we started this new site and I am very excited about stuff coming up and all the possibilities.

Have you got any funny stories you’d like to divulge? 

One time the front left tire on my car popped off on the freeway. It was crazy. No one got hurt.

What are your thoughts on the internet? 

I think sooner or later it will max out. There’s only so much we can do with it. It will get shelved next to the old Playstations and Xboxes. And then the next big thing is virtual reality… then the matrix… then terminators.

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Now for a more serious question — would you rather carry around a bowling ball in your right hand for the rest of your life, or wear ice skates all the time?

Bowling ball for sure.

Which photographers do you like? And which photographers suck?

I like the ones that are shooting all kinds of different things constantly and printing all the time. I think that’s part of it, printing—any kinds of prints, zines, books— share some prints.

We wanna see prints, any kind of prints.

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Do ghosts exist?

Yes.

What’s your favourite song?

That’s way too hard, but today’s jam was “Don’t change” by Inxs. A couple of rewinds at least on that one.

I think I’ve run out of questions now, have you got any wise words you’d like to pass on?

Stay busy!

Interview: Rob Dolecki

Chewing the virtual cud with concrete schralper, photo taker and proud hat wearer Rob Dolecki. Ecuador carve capture courtesy of my main man Mike Escamilla. 

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I may as well get to the heart of the matter here… was that you who had that mad crash on that old Props New Jersey scene report? What were you going for there? Were injuries sustained?

The swan dive to the floor at an indoor park? That was me. It’s incredible anyone actually remembers that. I thought it was a good idea to try and peg stall this metal beam out of a quarter and land into a wedge to the right. I guess I juiced it a little too much, accidentally landed double-tire, froze up in a state of confusion, and went down with the ship.

I was rewarded with a laceration above one eye and a fractured wrist. I’m lurking with a cast in the background of a few Grimaldo clips.

When did you start riding? I think with a lot of people there’s a ‘decisive moment’ that sets them off — was there one of these moments with you?

I got my first BMX bike, a GT Mach One, in 1984. The decisive moment for me was a few years earlier, when I saw my brother pedal towards this tiny drop-off in our backyard on some random non-BMX Ross bike, and both wheels left the ground. I couldn’t believe that it was possible to defy gravity on a bike, even if it was for a split second. That was it for me.

Who were the best riders round your area growing up? What was the best spot to ride?

The first skilled dude I can think of was Steve Rulli. He ended up riding for this company called General in the mid 80s. I still remember the moment I saw an ad he was in. It was the typical corny shit that most ads consisted of during that time, but I was just hyped to see someone who lived in the same town as me actually in a magazine.

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Another perceived bad-ass older rider was nicknamed ‘One Nut Willie’. He killed it at the first dirt jumps I ever went to, Eighth Ave in River Edge. The urban legend was that he lost a testicle while hopping a fence one night (sliced his nutsack open on a sharp protrusion) — it might’ve been that he was running from the cops and was drunk or something. I’m sure the whole thing was bullshit, but no friends my age nor I ever dared to ask him about it.

Once I got fully into riding trails and racing, most of the best riders I rode with either lived in NYC, Long Island or Pennsylvania (during The Dark Ages in the early 90s).

Until I got a car, there wasn’t really much of anything near me that I’d call a legit spot, outside of poor excuses for trails that my friends and I built out of crumbling sandy dirt, a parking lot behind a convenience store called Midland Market, and a couple of overpass banks down the road that were more fun to tag up than ride. But that’s also taking into account the fact that what most people consider a riding spot today is a lot different compared to when I was around 14, when riding street hadn’t really become a legit thing yet beyond curb cuts and maybe manuals. The best ‘trails’ in the world at the time were a few unmaintained mounds of dirt, and there weren’t any skateparks in my area.

There are actually some really good spots in that area today; I just didn’t know it then. When it comes to a spot for loitering and eating convenience store food, making jokes, and fucking with random people, there were plenty of good ones in my town. That hasn’t really changed.

After I expanded my immediate horizons a little bit via a vehicle, I discovered my one of my favorite pools. I still ride there whenever I’m in the area almost 25 years later, and it’s still one of the best spots ever. Hackensack bank to wall is a close second.

There’s a standout clip of you jumping loads of spine ramps in a row in Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Does that park still exist? Are all the spines still there? How many spines do you think you could realistically jump in a row before losing your cadence?

Mullaly in The Bronx is still going strong. It’s amazing that some of the O.G. crew like Rob Ramos and Lou Perez are still running shit there over two decades later, building new ramps with renewed energy and donated materials. Those spines have been gone for over a decade, but I heard there’s a new section of them under construction.

It’s like trails — with a consistent pump, theoretically you could hit as many as you wanted to until you got too tired.

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Mullaly Park in 1999. Photographer unknown. 

Have you got any good Will Taubin stories? 

Will is the best. I miss chillin’ with him. There was a period of a few years where Will could be found in the back of Union Square any and every night, even in the middle of February. It was basically his home. This was when Union was the prime Manhattan meet-up spot and vortex, before the Banks took over.

One late snowy, very frigid single-digit-temp winter night, I was walking quickly through Union on my way to the Path train, and Will and James Kennedy were sitting there, coffee in hand, visibly freezing, but enjoying their second home. I couldn’t believe anyone was posted up out in that weather by choice. Those were the glory days of Union Square, in part thanks to Will and the regular crew always holding it down daily.

In that era, say around 2000-2004, you could roll through pretty much any time of the day or night, and there was some BMXer posted up to hang out with. Hypothetically, if you stayed at Union the whole day, odds are you could have seen every rider who was out in the city; it was a given to cruise through at some point to see who was at Union, since it was the staple meet-up spot.

What was riding New York like in the early 90s? Was it the Taxi Driver-esque cesspit that I’d like to believe it was?

Outside of the wealthier sections in Manhattan, it was definitely wild-west style. Even though there was an increased danger factor compared to today, I actually liked it, since no one would care about kicking you out basically anywhere you rode.  Some of my most distinct memories from the first few years of exploring the city and also working as a bike messenger were…

  • Times Square being a bizarre mix of tourists, porn shops, and hustlers slinging 3-card-monte and/or any controlled substance. Especially the 42ndStreet area west of 7th Ave, where most non-locals chose not to venture down. It was nothing in any way like the homogenized Disney-fied commercial outlet it is today. I witnessed my first shoot-out there.
  • Tompkins Square Park being fully populated by a squatter tent-city.
  • A few blocks north of Macy’s, 36th street’s end-to-end sidewalk being entirely covered with refrigerator boxes, which were being used as shelter by the homeless — cardboard condos, as they were nicknamed. In Living Color’s “This Ol’ Box” skit had to have been inspired by the go-to DIY homeless housing found all over NYC at that time.
  • A high percentage of central and East Harlem being a post-apocalyptic urban jungle of burnt-out, abandoned apartment buildings and crack dens.
  • Many abandoned, stripped or firebombed cars littering the streets in various parts of the boroughs at any given time.

The Warriors is a somewhat accurate representation of the late 80s and early 90s NYC as a whole. Today, NYC seems like an entirely different place; it’s crazy how much it has changed. I always say The Bronx is the last borough still holding it down as glimpse into that time period. Though, if I want to teleport back to 80’s NYC, I can just take a pedal from my house a couple miles to some neighborhoods in North Philly. The resemblance is pretty amazing.

How did you meet Ralph Sinisi? 

Ralph said he met me once at these local trails back in the day. I don’t remember meeting him until a few years after, when we went to that pool I mentioned previously with a few friends of ours; he was driving a Chevy Nova with a Gorilla Biscuits sticker on a window.

In Don’t Quit Your Day Job 2 you ride to the smooth, soulful sounds of The Eurythmics. Was this Bob’s idea or yours? 

I choose that song, partly since I was surprised it hadn’t been used in a bike video before (to the best of my knowledge). I chose it more for the trails section than for my riding. Adding the random footage of myself was more an afterthought.

On the subject of that video, can you divulge any information about the four-pegged enigma Jesse Susicki?  

Enigma is an excellent word to describe Jesse. I never rode with Jesse much, so I don’t really have any info. While his choice of wardrobe and hairstyles may have had a tendency to fit one’s stereotypical view of a Jersey Shore regular, he was always a really cool dude, and had quite the skill set on ledges and rails.

When did you start taking photos? What was the first riding photo you took? Do you still have it?

I used to borrow a camera here and there when I was a kid, but when I bought my first camera about 19 years ago, that was when I legitimately started taking photos. I honestly don’t remember the first riding photo I took with it, but it was probably so bad, I threw it out when I got the film back. I was not a natural, by any means.

It may be said that you’re a better rider than some of the people you take photos of. Do you find it irritating that you can’t take photographs of yourself?

Thanks, but I think most riders I shoot photos of have way more skills on a bike at their age than I’ve ever had.

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Philly pool snap by Nicole Perry.

As a professional photographer, do you sometimes have to take photographs of tricks that you think are rubbish? What do you say when someone suggests something useless that they want you to take a picture of?

It’s happened, but the people I choose to be around usually have a standard of what makes a photo good that surpasses mine, or a reason why the photo might look good beyond bike tricks. The times it has happened, I had no problem making up some excuse why I couldn’t shoot it.

What about if a rider is wearing red jeans or something? Do you make sure you’ve got black and white film for these situations? 

The more colorful the costume, the more colorful the photo. I’m indifferent to photographing any fashion faux pas.

What are your thoughts on people who come out riding without a bag and expect you to take their photo and hand out inner tubes?

Well, I can’t really comment on anything related to carrying supplies or other people’s personal items. Since I’ve pawned a heavy-ass second camera bag onto other people to pedal around with so many times on trips, some dudes would throw on an empty backpack for the sole reason of getting out of carrying mine. I don’t look at that in a negative way; I’d probably do the same thing!

Good looks to everyone who has ever helped with my second bag.

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Assorted gems taken by the man you’re reading about.

You’re a bit of a darkroom wizard. Have you got any tips for success under the red light?

Thanks for the compliment, though I’d have to attribute the majority of any darkroom expertise I have to Keith Terra’s guidance. He showed me many tricks during the time I spent living part-time on a couch in his ex-girlfriend’s Greenpoint apartment back in the day.

As far as tips, as with anything, the more time spent in there the more you can learn, which is very good for creating prints, but the constant chemical inhalation might not be very good for your health.

You’ve been all over the world riding stuff. Can you give us a run-down of your top three concrete skateparks?

I’ll give five. Right now, in descending order, I’d say FDR in Philly, San Bartolo in Peru, New Lynn in New Zealand, West Lynn in Oregon, and Abington, PA. For the most part, I like weird, awkwardly-transitioned parks.

That Peru one looks mint. How did you find that?

 Yeah, it was funny going to that Peru park. Before we went, the local dudes I was with told me it was pretty old, badly made, and no fun at all. We were originally going to the beach and just stopping at the park for a minute. After seeing the park, we never made it to the beach.

That solidified my view that if someone says a concrete park is old, has bad transitions, and is no fun, I’m going to really like it. It’s happened every single time.

Do you ever kick it at Brigantine?

On occasion, but nowhere near as much as Big $cerbs did when he was living in Philly. He’s a much bigger fan of the place than I am.

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Pipe 2 Pipe transfer. High action photo by Matt Coplon.

I liked that Maintain zine you did. Have you got anything more in the pipeline? 

Glad you enjoyed it; hearing that makes the effort worthwhile. Two more are in progress to finish up the ‘zine series. Chapter II should (hopefully) be done early spring. Chapter II.V video promo sometime later. After the ‘zine series, I have more chapters in other forms planned under the same name.

I read somewhere that you used to make a zine in the 90s? What was this called? 

It was called Rheum, and I did three issues during ‘96-‘97. Nothing that was remotely groundbreaking or of any real quality, but they’re each good memories for myself from a transitional time period. I may actually finish and release the perpetually incomplete 4th issue at some point. I’ll probably wait two more years so it’s a solid 20 years late.

It seems there’s been a slight-but-noticeable increase in the amount of non-industrial printed-matter being released lately… have you any theories of why this might be?

That’s a good question. I have a number of reasons why I think there is a need for it. Apparently there are others that feel the same way, and I think that’s a good thing. I hope to see more and more independently-produced ‘zines and the like coming out.

On an unrelated note, what’s Brian Tunney up to these days?

I’m sure a lot more than what I’m listing, but working at ESPN, living in Austin, riding, and making awesome Instagram posts comparing old spots in magazine photos from the 80s with what the spot looks like today. Can’t wait to see the book compilation he’s putting together.

Have you seen any good films lately?

The Big Short is one I saw the other week. Most of my film-viewing ends up being mediocore nonsense on Netflix, though. Searching for something good to watch on there can sometimes put you in just as much of a black hole as Instagram.

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Rear peg coping balance. Photo possibly taken by T8 Roskelly.

Ignoring clothes, bike set-up and tricks done, how has the actual act of going out riding changed since the 80s? Has it changed?

To me, it hasn’t changed at all.  There has always been people who have, and who continue to go out and cruise with the primary objective of having a good time, regardless of the terrain being ridden, whether it’s the neighborhood block, trails deep in the woods, or a plaza-style skatepark.

Alright, I think that’s pretty much all I’ve got. Thanks for answering my daft questions. Have you any wise words you’d like to pass on?

I see more and more (older) people get disillusioned in recent times by the ‘state of BMX’, industry bullshit, and how some companies, media and ‘famous riders’ portray bike riding. It’s cliché at this point, but BMX is what you make it, regardless of internet drama, trends, and others’ opinions on it. No matter how well self-serving individuals succeed at making BMX look corny, shitty, and straight up wack, it doesn’t ever have to be a reflection of your own experience and the community you’re in.

If you don’t like how you’re seeing things portrayed, write a blog, get a camera, or team up with someone who does have one and showcase what you do like on your own; it’s easier now than it’s ever been.

And some of the greatest words of wisdom come in fortune cookies. To be seen in MAINTAIN II

See some of Rob’s photos here. Maintain I can be acquired here. Promotional video below…

MAINTAIN I.V from DOSEQUIS VISUALS on Vimeo.