The Union Tapes
We believe the UK needs BMX podcasts so we threw the hat in and interviewed the riders who were actually there.
We’ll aim for one a month and see where it takes us?
Eric Steel is a name that started getting known in the quieter times of BMX, although one of the original Rom BMX locals. The media didnt give him full credit until around 85 onward. Eric was one of the names you'd hear about at Rom back in the mid 80s. The names 'Eric and Marco' were often mentioned in the same sentence back then. Eric was elevated to pro level status when BMX Action bike run a sequence of him doing the first 540 air people had seen in print. ? The 540 in the pic he is about 5 feet out. Suddenly 540s were not only a thing but any restrictive barriers that had been placed on them psychologically had been removed. From that pic, he would become a regular in the magazines, Also becoming infamous for the hand plant-both of which he tells us the story of with in. In this interview we cover all the usuals as well as a ton of stuff, you wouldnt know about unless you were in that circle. We delve into the beginnings of the Harlow scene, Rom skatepark, getting on Faze 7, Hole shot contests, getting on Kuwhara for 48 hours, King of the skateparks 84 and 85, being on standby for BMX beat, becoming local at Jess Dyrenforth's ramp, the legendary Mons ramp jam, Chingford halfpipe, printing legendary BMX co t shirts, BFA circuit, riding for Skyway. The Tizer world tour, moving up north and re establishing himself into a different scene. Eric was one of the most progressive riders to come out of the 80's and i believe has been very under appreciated. This is good look into how he thought about BMX and where he was taking it. Riders mentioned Zach Shaw, Darren Robinson, Nick Phillip, Jess Dyrenforth, Craig Campbell, Chris Young, Pikey Paul, Neil Ruffell, Marco Lara, Dave Currey, Tony Hawk, Billy Stupple, Ron Wilkerson, Rich Sigur, Carl Westfield, Jason Hassel, Mike Canning, Bob Haro, Dean Rush, Damon nicholls, Tony Mckenzie, Dennis McCoy, Dino Deluca, Jon Taylor, Jim Tomlinson, Steven Laidlaw
Back in the 80s I bought a magazine called BMX Action bike, the first issue I bought had a pic of a guy in race gear and full face helmet dropping into a concrete bowl. It was shot at night and they had a bunch of additional coloured lights behind him. The feature was called 'Dark side of the bowl’, within the pages was a feature on Craig Campbell, blasting around Rom skatepark, it was a feature that burned in my memory for life.
From that point on, Craig Campbell popped up in nearly every magazine I bought in the 80s. He won almost every major event there was in 1984. And was the epitome of a factory BMX pro. This interview changed how I perceived many sponsored riders from the 80s and made me question my standpoint on so many things me and and my friends were judgemental of. Craig did it all in the decade he was actively in BMX, first he raced, then got into freestyle in a big way, won contests, multiple sponsors, factory teams, signature products, TV appearances, trips to the USA to compete at the legendary King of the Skateparks at pipeline in CA, breaking away from the corporate sponsors to rediscover his passion for riding, inovating new tricks and pioneering street riding with other like minded individuals then moving to California to to get fully immersed in all of the above. Get the in-depth story on it all by checking this interview….and I still could have asked more!
Riders mentioned: Marco Lara, Billy Stupple, Andy Ruffell, Jess Dyrenforth, Eric Steel, Biff, Dave Curry, Alice Temple, Bob Haro, Chris Young, Carlo Griggs, Nick Jeffries, Paul Hudson, Neil Ruffell, Ron Wilkerson, Tony Mckenzie, Damon Nicholls, Jason Lunn, Ralph Tribe, Nick Phillip, Spike Jonze, Tim March, Dave Vanderspek, Eddie Fiola, Craig Grasso, Brain Blyther, Mike Dominguez, Dave Voelker, Chris Day, Eddie Roman, Kevin Jones, Pepi Winder, Pete Augustin, RL Osbourne, Leo Chen, Oscar Gonzales, Hugo Gonzales
Scott Malyon was one of the big break out names from UK BMX in the late 90s early 2000s. Whenever he rode an event he was always a name that stood out, huge transfers, higher airs than the whole group and usually the furthest gaps. Scott bounced around a couple of sponsors early on, and ended up riding for the super influential T-1 team, with Joe Rich And Taj Mihilech. And in time had his own signature T-1 barcode frame. We find out where it started, the journey up, what motivated him to go to such levels, breaking bike parts, early riding spots, the sponsors on the way, riding influences, the UK scene, The sometimes dangerous Union trips to Europe. Scoring multiple magazine covers. The infamous Props issue 50 Union trip. Getting invited on Road fools trips across the USA. Contest philosophy, the people he rode with and everything else involved in his 30 plus year journey in BMX.
Riders mentioned: Gordy, Carlo Griggs, Steve Geal, Mat Hoffman, Dennis McCoy, Dave Mirra, Vic Murphy, Brad Blanchard, Stuart King, Tony Jarrod, Ian Morris, Dave Beveridge, Dylan Worsley, Stuart King, Colin Austin, Matt Pingel, Pete Jankovski, Mark Malone, Andy Appleyard, Curtis Last, Martin Tamblin, James Hitchcox, Pill, Cong, Zach Sprinkle, Nate Wessel, MikeAitken, Matt Berringer, Elf, Wiz, Andy Peerless, Rob Steel, Rob Ridge, Rob James, Paul Meacher, Grotbags-Paul Roberts, Tony Cardona, Randy Brown, Tony Hamlin, Tom Dillon, Jay Roe, Edwin Delarosa, Vic Ayala, Joe Rich, Billy Dexter, Brian Terrada, Biz, Seth Kimborough, Taj Mihellich, Rooftop, Darren Clagget, Corey Martinez, Nathan Williams, Robbie Morales, Paul Buchanan, Van Homan, Kevin Porter, Groundchuck, Jason Steig, Ryan Nyquist, Chris Doyle, Jimmy Levan, Fraggle-Fraser Peek
I've known Andy Brown for well over 30 years now. As a kid many of us looked up to him and the crew he rode with as the older riders coming out of the London area, leading the way. Although there was always rumours of an angry persona, he was always friendly to us youngsters and later on when I started hanging out with him regularly I borrowed a lot of his traits, I considered him an adult, even though he was probably only 20 years old he always seemed to pursue the things he liked whether they were considered cool by people or not, he did what he desired.
Although he’d already scored the cover of BMX Action bike and featured many times in the mag Andy rose to infamous status after his iconic interview shot at Meanwhile 1/4 pipes in west London featured in BMX Action bike/RAD magazine. He’d already been riding for a few years at that point, was a regular on the UKBFA contest scene in the mid 80s, starting out as a prominent flat lander, later to become one of the most innovative and aggro ramp and street riders of the late 80s.
We cover starting out riding in South London in the early days, riding locally, Youngs BMX store in Lewisham, discovering Rom skatepark and the hive of BMX that existed there, the beginnings of South bank BMX scene, The Meanwhile crew, getting on the cover of BMX Action bike, learning to air, the RAD interview, Chingford ramp scene. The Tizer worlds, injuries, riding for GT, getting into street riding, trip to the enchanted ramp in CA, his clothing brand 'Evolution’ , the dying BMX scene in the early 90s, comics, metal/punk music, getting out of the scene, BMX in the Olympics, looking back on BMX now and way more!
Riders mentioned: Paul Zach, Paul Gerlach, Billy Stupple, Marco Lara, Biff, Jason Hassel, Craig Campbell, Nick Phillip, Jess Dyrenforth, Neil Ruffell, Robert Ruffell, Andy Ruffell, Dave Young, Aju Bubu, Chris Laney, Shane O'Brien, Jason Lunn, John Povah, Greg Guilliotte, Lee Reynolds, Dave Slade, Nick Phillip, Sid-Warren Sidell, James Hudson, Jason Ellis, Shaun Allison, Scott Macdonald, Mike Canning, Zach Shaw, Jerry Galley, Gary Macallion, Nick Howard Elkan, Joe Johnson, Dennis McCoy, Ron Wilkerson, Darren Whitfield and more...
Stuart King discovered BMX at its lowest point in popularity, we pin it down to around 1990. How the carcass of a 80's kids boom held any interest to a young teen back then is quite intriguing. He quickly picked up a friend group and a heavy arsenal of tricks, which only got bigger and bigger as he himself grew. He is one of the most naturally determined riders I’ve ever met, and that determination became visible in his style once he reached 16 or 17 years old. He quickly became one of the big UK names in the mid to late 90s, and was one of the only UK names to make it over to the USA into and hang in the infamous pro class at Hoffman bikes BS series. After a lot of troubles with breaking bike parts and generally bad products of the early 90s, he became interested in making more robust BMX products, which later became the legendary King Bike Co, a frame which was built in 95 which had geometry that is still used to this day. Multiple trips to the USA for contests, and the first UK BMX X Games competitor, which led to him meeting new friends in Bethlehem PA, the home of Posh trails. We get into how everything fell into place, the riders, the places, the events, the bikes, the products, the company, the burnout and getting back into it in recent years.
Riders mentioned: Mark Langston, Richard Browne, Duncan Jack, Mason Smith, Elliot Mcgrath, Martin Allmey, Scott Stevens, Grotbags, Jerry Galley, Mike Canning, Jamie Bestwick, Simon Tabron, Jason Davies, Dave Mirra, Dennis McCoy, Joe Rich, Taj Mihelich, Sandy Carson, Chris Sals, Jay Lonegan, Ed Koening, Robbie Morales and Mat Hoffman
Greg Guillotte was one of the riders pushing the limits in mid to late 80’s, part of the legendary meanwhile quarter pipe crew in west London. Greg scored a Radness unlimited page in BMX action bike magazine as his first pic and that was the start of many print pages to come. Whilst BMX dwindled in size and became a pointless childs activity in the eyes of the public, crews of dedicated riders up n down the country pushed harder than ever in pursuit of BMX radness. In this interview we hear Greg's story of moving from the USA to Holland to London then back to the USA, getting into BMX, first visit to Londons meanwhile gardens, learning to air, getting in the magazines, hole shot contests, UKBFA, BMX beat, the infamous pop out-itis, learning to ride Londons half pipes, moving back to the USA, competing in the 2 hip and AFA contests, building a new backyard ramp in TX, shows for Micki Conte, getting a cover of Go! Magazine and much more….get some!
Zach has done more in BMX than we could ever fit in to multiple 3 hour conversations. I first met Zach in 86 at Chingford halfpipe, we cover a history of his BMX riding from his start in the boom days of the early 80s to present day. We talk about early Harlow riding scene, meeting locals Eric Steel and Darren Robinson, breaking bikes, discovering Rom skatepark, seminal BMX shop Faze 7, the mythical 80s Rom local Marco Lara. Home made 1/4 pipes, The annual Holeshot contest in Finsbury Park, London. Meanwhile ripper Greg Guilliotte, Uncovering the Chingford scene. Getting pics in RAD magazine. Travels to the northern BMX mecca’s in the 80s and meeting new scenes. BFA contests. Backyard jams. Localising Leigh on sea skatepark. Riding in the circus with Shaun Scarfe. Inventing the 360 backflip, riding for GT and becoming the team manager for them, competing in the USA CFB series, appearing in the Dave Mirra video game, the vert contest circuit and….biscuits??! Enjoy!
Fids is one of the bigger UK names from 90s BMX to present day. He’s pretty much done it all.
We take it back to the start-the very start. We find out about the early BMX craze days at Gillingham skatepark, the transition to skateboarding,
finding out about punk rock, being a sponsored vert skateboarder, London vert ramps, the death of vert skating. How he got back into BMX in the early 90s.
Wining backyard jams, first trip to California, getting on S&M, the start of UK trail riding, endless euro trips, the difficulties of riding, Boyley stories,
Euro Road fools, injuries, still being on S&M and getting a pro board on S&M as well as much more…he thinks he saw Pantera in holland but it was actually Madball!