Through The Lens: The Come Up. Past, Present and Future

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As always, TTL just kind of happens and this week was no different. I normally wouldn’t want to do two weeks of straight interviews but I randomly tweeted at Adam Grandmaison a.k.a Adam22 on Twitter and said that I would like to interview him for a future TTL column on the site. Well, long story short he came back with an “I dare you” and now a few days later here we are. Needless to say the reason Adam and I get along so well is because we have had a mutual respect for one another from the beginning and whether or not you want to admit it, The Come Up is a site that nearly every single BMX rider in the world checks on a daily basis so you can’t really say that he isn’t doing it right. He also has been laying low working hard on a bunch of new projects, he hired a staff of bloggers and has been working on a brand new iPhone app that will be out soon. I cruised down to Long Beach on Monday to sit down with him, chill for a bit and find out exactly what TCU has in store for the future. I also interviewed his personal bodyguard Chris Long and his new money guy Alfredo Mancuso. Love it or hate it, TCU has been a staple in the BMX scene and will be for years and years to come. Let’s get to it.

So, let’s start it off with the basics for those who don’t know. What’s your full name, where are you from and how old are you?
Adam Grandmaison, also known as Adam22. I’m from Nashua, New Hampshire and I just turned 29.

What originally got you into riding? It’s kind of entertaining to me to think of you as a young kid cruising around on a BMX bike in New Hampshire.
So there were these two kids, Brandon Dube and Aaron Meuse and they were definitely the two “bad” kids in my elementary school and I guess I was maybe the other bad kid, so we were always hanging out. And they had BMX bikes and I remember they came over my house and got me one day and they took me to some dirt jumps and showed me and I was just so blown away that people had actually built these crazy things. And then I think later we rode around in downtown Nashua and they took me to this rail, the famous “white rail” which was my first rail, and Aaron did it and it just blew me away. They both had two pegs and no brakes and I thought it was the sickest shit on earth and I just wanted to be down with BMX and I guess that that’s dictated the last 15 years of my life.

Did you know what BMX was before that?
I had maybe seen some contests on T.V. but I had never thought about it before and it definitely didn’t occur to me that it was something that normal people could go out and learn to do.

Were you always into street riding from the beginning? Or did you ride parks and trails too?
Oh no it was always street. My mom was a librarian and she got me all the BMX magazines from the library she worked at but they were all Snap and BMX Plus! which at the time didn’t have any street in them. But there was an ad for one of the old Ride videos that had a dude doing a 10 stair rail with Rail Master pegs on and I would just stare at that photo. I got Baco 8 and I was fast forwarding through the trails parts and it was the first bike video I had ever seen.

How was the scene when you first started riding? Did you know all of the other riders in your town? What was the vibe like?
The scene in Nashua was really small. There was a little skate park we called the ghetto park, which was just a couple little flat ledges and a little pyramid. And then there was the Nashua skate park, which is pretty famous and really good, it has an amazing bowl. But they didn’t build that until I had been riding for a few years. I would just ride around downtown with everyone. The scene for me was just maybe 6-12 dudes riding around downtown all night talking to girls, manualing curbs, breaking shit, doing graffiti, and stealing shit from CVS. Even from the beginning with me I was taught that doing tricks wasn’t the most important part of riding, the most important part was just hanging out and having fun.

When was it that you first started getting more involved and following BMX to the point where you knew what all of the magazines were, and kept up on what was popular at the time and all of that?
I was always paying attention, always trying to get my hands on magazines and VHS tapes. I didn’t really have any money but I’d borrow everything from my friends and stuff.
I remember on Christmas I would just rip the pages out of Dans Comp and circle like ten VHS tapes and my mom would get me one video and then buy me some books, underwear and socks and shit. I’d always just wish she would buy me all the videos I wanted ha-ha.

For sure, well damn. I guess that goes to show that you really do have quite the history as a rider. I started riding when I was real young but I consider myself knowing what BMX was and all of that when I was like 13 or so. It’s crazy to think how much things have changed since we started riding. What do you think the major differences are between then and now?
I think riding wise the difference for me now is just that I don’t have as much time because I have a lot of work to do every day. I have a lot of responsibilities and I am interested in a lot of other things that I want to spend time working on. But I still go ride around look for spots like I did when I was a kid and I’ll still go session a spot by myself. I film and work on edits now which I never did as a kid but I love that shit, that’s something I always wanted to do as a kid but I didn’t know anyone with cameras or anything. And obviously when we go on trips I have to be the team manager and boss everyone around and try to gently convince dudes to film bangers but that’s fun too.

OK, now that we have the basics covered let’s move forward. As the guy who now has one of the loudest voices in BMX through your website were you always an opinionated rider?
I feel like I’ve just always been an opinionated person because I was always just all about learning about the things I was interested in. I can’t imagine not being opinionated about the things you’re passionate about. To me it’s not about being opinionated, it’s just about being smart and trying to be smarter by discussing things with people who are similarly minded.

I hear you on that. Well, why don’t you give everyone a quick background on how you got to where you are today. Obviously most BMX’ers out there that stay up on riding know what The Come Up is, but some might not know where it all started.
Well long story short I started a BMX blog as a joke seven years or so ago and it started to become somewhat well-known just by word of mouth and some message board hype. Essentially I just kept working at it until it was bigger than all of the other websites.

When did you start taking The Come Up seriously?
I had a moment… actually I had a whole week. I was scheduled to go on vacation with my family and my girlfriend for a week in Florida. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation with them since but for some reason we went on vacation that year. Right before I left Rich Hirsch hit me up and said he wanted to run some Lotek ads. So the whole time I was on vacation I just sat around thinking about how when I got home I was going to do two things. First, I was going to lose weight and second I was going to make enough money to pay my rent off of the website. I eventually lost like seventy pounds and I was paying my rent a couple months later. So I guess that was when I started taking it seriously. If anyone out there remembers when we switched from the site design with the big dollar bill logo to the all white site design with banner ads on both sides and the bricks of cocaine up top, that was when I started to take it real serious.

Well obviously, I mean, you had bricks of cocaine all up on that shit.
Ha-Ha, it was a play on words. Because “The Come Up” in rap songs usually refers to selling drugs so I figured people would get the joke but some people definitely thought we were promoting drug trafficking.

So, was Rich from Lotek the first official company to advertise with TCU?
Yes. I got a check for $1500 bucks up front from Tip Plus for twelve months and I felt like I had hit the lottery. It was funny because at the time I might have had thirty or forty grand in my online poker account but making some money off of a blog seemed way cooler.

So now people know who to blame when they get mad at The Come Up. It’s all Rich’s fault.
Well I was going hard with the site for like a year before that and I probably would have kept going forever without making any money off it. I was putting in tons of work without making any money and when Rich offered to advertise I was so taken aback. I think at that point I assumed that only huge media companies could make money off ads.

For sure, so obviously you didn’t start the site with dollar signs in your eyes.
No way. And it’s funny because back when I was a kid I never even knew that you could make money from riding because I never knew a single pro and didn’t really think about the fact that pros were getting money from their sponsors because you know, they don’t talk about stuff like that in magazines. I mean I’ve always just been about making money in one way or another, and riding my bike for fun. They were always completely separate. They still are to me since you know; having a meeting with Volume or writing a blog post doesn’t change how I’m going to feel going out and doing smith hards by myself.

That’s how it should be. Anyone making money off of BMX no matter how much or how little should be incredibly grateful.

Honestly if you stop for a second and think about it, did you ever think that TCU would become what it is today? Which is arguably the most visited site in all of BMX.
All I’ve ever done was the best job I could at stuff. I think lately with getting Alfredo involved that’s taken the site to a different level because he filled in the gaps. I’m not good with math, taxes, and accounting. He is a natural with numbers so having him on board really stepped shit up.

Well, now that you mentioned Alfredo why don’t you give the quick rundown on his involvement with the site, kind of a when, where and why or how that came about.
Basically I was down in the dumps because of a situation with a girl and he just recognized that and started making me go out to Hollywood with him and his brother, drinking and partying and shit. He helped me get out of that funk and we just became really good friends. One day I spilled it on him that I was stressed out because I felt TCU was stagnant and he said he wanted to help out. And we just started working on it together every day and it’s been amazing. We’ve become more than just friends, we’re brothers and I feel like I’m a real part of his family. I’ve never met someone so smart and organized as Alfredo. He’s a really amazing person. I guess his title is CFO but he handles anything financial, he also does the ad sales, and the taxes.

And, I know we have talked about this a bit before but what kind of changes have you noticed since bringing him on board?
We have just become a lot more organized. A lot of the changes have been things that I’ve sort of masterminded but they were changes that I couldn’t have taken on if I didn’t have him managing all the shit he does. Bringing on a staff of bloggers has been huge for us as well. It changed TCU from being just me to being a crew of different personalities and that’s been important. We started the TCU T.V. project and that has been a lot of fun. I think brands have recognized the value in us giving them a place to talk about what they’re all about. Alfredo has been really insistent about us doing an iPhone app and that’s coming soon. We switched to the URL and I think we’ve just worked on the site’s image and improved that a lot. We want people to recognize that we’re just about being the best BMX site we can be and to move past some of the stupid drama we got wrapped up in years ago. That’s not what we’re about now.

Which leads me to my next question. TCU has quite the history of being controversial and I feel like that was part of the allure for a lot of people out there. Almost like a “did you see that shit” type of deal. Do you feel like if you lose that drama aspect you will lose some fans?
I feel like we can still do interesting, exciting content without necessarily doing “drama” you know? We got a lot of attention early on because of controversy but I think that we can be controversial without being petty or shitty. It’s a fine line but I still think the site has the “did you see that shit” element without being totally over the top like we might have been a few years ago.

With bringing on a staff of bloggers you kind of provided yourself a way to step out of the limelight but you still post on the site here and there. How do you decide what to post and is it one of those things where you get first priority if you want to post something or are you an equal so-to-speak to the other bloggers for TCU?
I just wake up in the morning and go through my email and the RSS and see what there is to post and if it’s something I’ve got something to say about, I’ll post it and if it’s something less interesting I’ll just send it to the group chat for them to post. And then a lot of times I’m on the Internet all night so I get a chance to post shit then. But I will still go through the site and watch anything that looks interesting and I always leave comments and share the comments to Facebook or tweet about videos. I know there are dudes that like my descriptions best so I try to tweet or write whatever I think about videos. I still like watching bike videos. It’s fun watching videos without having to post all of them, since I never really had that experience before. I can finally sit back a little and be a fan of the site like everyone else is.

Well, I definitely think I speak for a lot of people when I say that your opinion and voice on the site has helped to make it what it is. Good or bad you have a way about you that can be controversial at times and I think that is something that should not be forgotten about.
Well thanks I mean I guess I have a different perspective. And I just consider bikes to be something where having your own personal taste is really important. I like riders that go really far in one direction for the most part. I like someone like Butcher because he sort of takes being a street rider to such an extreme. Or I like someone like Harry Main or Brett Banasiewicz because they are park riders in such a specific sense. I like that they aren’t out there doing shitty feeble 3’s on flat ledges in edits trying to fit in. But then at the same time I’m so amazed by Dennis Enarson because he’s so good at everything. But I’m not scared to say that there are tricks I don’t like or certain riders whose style I don’t like, which just really threatens a lot of people. But that’s just my opinion, my friends have different opinions and it’s nothing. We argue and we laugh about that shit. My friends make fun of my riding and I make fun of their riding. Even my friends who are super good, I’ll just say something stupid to have fun with it and say that they land back wheel on their truckdrivers or something.

So are you trying to say your days of shit talking on TCU are over?
No but I mean how ridiculously sensitive people are definitely stops me from saying a lot of shit. Like in my perfect world, I’d be able to watch a video of a big name pro and just leave a description that makes fun of their riding and points out the tricks where the filmer fucked up and the pro would be able to laugh about it and talk shit back and have fun with it and the kids would think it was great. But dudes have crazy egos and don’t like joking around like we do.

That makes sense for sure. It’s become pretty obvious that you guys are really taking a different direction with things and just trying to be more of a legit source with original content and varied opinions rather than just your own personal view, which is a good thing. Which is why the whole S & M x TCU parody site seems so funny at this point. It’s like, when you are kind of taking a back seat to controversy they stepped in and took over that role for a bit of a laugh. What are your thoughts on that whole deal?
Yeah I don’t really know why Moeller keeps picking on us. To me, we are just running a really good BMX site. Everyone involved in the site whether it’s Charlie, Gutstains, Devin, Chris Z, Alfredo, Chris Long, Scotty Wemmer, or Mike Jonas… they are all awesome dudes. I thought the Hitler video was really funny but the most legendary BMX Company of all time devoting their entire Internet presence to making fun of us just seems funny. I have had a lot of people hitting me up just really confused about it. It’s corny to me because I saw Moeller in Vegas and he said hi and acted like we were cool and I emailed him a couple weeks ago saying I wanted to meet to talk about the changes we’ve made to TCU and he said he’d get back to me. Then they just drop this weird parody site. As far as I can tell, nobody really thinks it’s funny but I just hope he can get over poking fun at us at some point and we can work together. We were cool even like a year ago. I went over there with Shawn McIntosh and he gave me a frame, bars, forks, all that shit and I’m still riding that frame. Not sure what made him change his feelings about us.

Well you know that imitation is the biggest form of flattery right?
The Hitler video was exciting to me because it got like 20,000 views. It was so crazy to me that 20,000 people apparently know enough about me to think that video was funny. I was pretty blown away by that whole experience. With their new site it’s more just sad I think.

Well now that we are on this topic what’s the deal with your beef with Vital? It seems like you guys went back and forth a bit in the comments but never really came to a conclusion.
I mean the article itself was pretty self explanatory, I just wanted to bitch about the things that I think suck about that site. The comment Brad left was super funny. He said that Vital has an audience twice as big as ours. Which if it is true, is pretty impressive since any video that we both post will almost always get two or three times as many views from TCU. Honestly I admire Brad as a businessman but they know we run this shit just like everyone else knows it. I just think they make BMX look corny that’s all I really felt like saying. There’s nothing immoral about being corny but it’s worthy of being made fun of I think.

Do you ever feel like you have to play favorites when it comes to companies that advertise with TCU?
I’m glad you asked that actually, because I think it’s important to be transparent about that kind of thing. When companies advertise, part of the deal is that we offer them additional coverage. Like we’ll post their print ads, their new products, shit like that. We work together with advertisers on exclusive videos, contests, shit like that. When I was a kid I didn’t realize that the companies with road trips in magazines only got those road trips because they were advertising. Which seems like common sense to me now but I didn’t know that as a kid.

Yeah, a lot of magazine coverage is “advertorial” style where the companies involved help out in some way to make that certain trip happen. And you are right, not a lot of people know that but when you really look at certain magazines you can kind of tell that in regards to the riders and the content.
Yeah you can totally tell once you know that. Like even with the riders who get covers. All that shit comes down to being at least sort of political. It’s the same way with us but I try to be more open about it and with a lot of shit I think it’s obvious. Like why does Charlie have an exclusive on TCU today with a banner on the top of the site? Because he’s my friend, he asked me, and we like working together. People are okay with that, but then the fact that certain riders get covers because of their sponsor advertising, that bothers people. It used to bother me, but it doesn’t really make any sense. Media companies have to keep their sponsors happy.

Now that we are on the topic of magazines, I know personally I used to always get mad at you for hating on print because it seemed like you were doing the online thing and wanted people to get more into that but in all reality, I feel like you were just kind of seeing into the future and being realistic in your opinions. Years later, online content has become much more dialed and refined and in my opinion just as credible as a magazine article can be. In a way, working online is almost more real because you can come up with an idea and see it come to light so quickly.
Yeah I felt like I got so much heat a few years ago when I started talking about the future of printed media. I was just trying to have an open discussion about that shit. I am still fascinated by how media is changing and now I think that people do give the web a lot more credit now. I don’t think there are as many people who still have that ridiculous idea that online content is inherently worse than printed content. I’ve done stuff online and I’ve done stuff in print and for me as a writer I’d take online any day. Watching the comments, tweets and Facebook “likes” come in is such a great experience for a blogger. Because those things really act as a judge of how effective your writing is. I wrote that “Why I Ride” article and it got over 1000 Facebook shares and that was amazing for me. All day long people were sharing it on there and discussing it and I had so much fun reading everyone’s thoughts. Every time I do something in print, I just never hear a single thing about it. Maybe a few here and there but especially now, you don’t hear much. I paid for a year of ads in Dig and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who even saw one. I’ve definitely never heard from anyone like “hey I saw your ad”. But when we put it on TCU and it gets 30 comments, that’s immediate and you can measure it. If we make an edit and it gets 20,000 views and we make an edit that gets 100,000 views, obviously the 100k one had more of an impact. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better but it means that more people enjoyed it.

So, after your year in Dig what are your thoughts on advertising again in print?
Not happening, Ha-ha. It’s nothing personal towards them. I’m sure I’d be saying the same thing about any magazine.
It’s definitely a different world out there these days. There is so much content to be consumed on a daily basis it’s almost mind blowing.
For me BMX wise, I watch maybe like five web videos a day when I’m not blogging. Like if I just visit the site there might be 5-10 things I’m interested enough in to watch. and I’m pretty comfortable with watching 20 or 30 minutes of BMX on the Internet a day. I don’t find it as overwhelming as a lot of people seem to.

That’s what TCU is for right?
Watching BMX videos? Ha-Ha yeah at it’s core I think that we’re still living off the fact that we were basically the first site to really push watching web videos. That’s what they’ll put on my tombstone if I don’t do anything more important between now and when I die. I feel like it’s easy to scroll past the content you don’t watch and you can just read the description and actually feel like you’re reading a description that accurately describes what you are about to watch. On most BMX sites, it’s obvious the writer only has a pretty elementary understanding of BMX. To me, this shit is important and there’s usually some shit worth saying. I know that me and Charlie Crumlish will sit around for hours discussing riding and just debating shit.

That’s where progression comes from. There is nothing wrong with a good shit talking sesh here and there.
Yeah if you have to defend your perspective, you strengthen it. Or you figure out that you’re wrong. Or you just butt heads and that’s fun to us. I hang out with a lot of dudes that don’t ride shit even slightly similar to what I ride though. Like I’d rather kick it with Anthony Napolitan or Ryan Guettler than a lot of people but we’d never go riding together. Actually I went to Woodward with Guettler and he was actually giving me tips on a smith up a ledge to hard 180 switch smith down, so I guess I can’t say that.

Do you ever feel like it’s almost ridiculous how much amazing riding has been put out online for free? Sometimes it seems like so much work can go into a video that gets talked about for a day or two and then it’s gone.
Really good web videos get remembered for years and years. If a video doesn’t get remembered it’s because that video wasn’t good enough to get remembered. I know that with a lot of the OSS videos that we put online, I still have people bring them up to me wherever we go. A lot of people make videos with great riding but the filming, or the editing, or the branding, or the presentation aren’t great so they don’t get as much attention. Then the people who made them sit at home and cry about how nobody watches web videos. But people do watch web videos. They watch web videos everyday…your web videos just aren’t hot enough. I know for me personally most of the OSS web videos we put out, I know they’re dope. People still bring up that OSS Salt Lake skate park session edit all the time. It’s just a little skate park edit but Mastroni did an amazing job filming and editing it, we used a dope song and used a lot of really good b-roll footage. The riding was good, but it’s not like it was some next level shit. If you present something properly, people will love it. But most people make edits in two hours and they don’t really treat video making like an art. I admire Ryan Navazio so much man because he pays so much attention to detail. With the filming, the music, and the editing. He sweats the small stuff.

I agree, and after watching the Cult video today it was so apparent that they did everything right from start to finish and he is obviously responsible for a big part of that. So, that brings up my next question. Who do you think is doing BMX right as a Company?
I mean I think Cult do an amazing job because they hired the best videographer to do the best DVD he could do. Every BMX company should be required to do that. Like kids, don’t ride a frame unless that frame company puts out dope ass videos. Online, DVD, whatever. Don’t do it, that’s an order. If you like their videos, buy their shit. Volume hired Mastroni to do all their video stuff so I gotta’ shout out Castillo for that, they are doing a DVD. BSD are another one that comes to mind. I could sit here naming off every company I like but obviously there are a bunch of companies doing awesome shit. Animal, Kink, MARKIT, all the Cinema and Greenhouse shit. I also gotta’ shout out Federal, Deadline and the Sparky’s brands. There are a ton of good filmers and companies now. But you still see companies put out whack shit sometimes.

If a kid comes up to you at a skate park or whatever and asks you why they should check TCU on the daily what would you tell them?
They should check The Come Up every day because it’s the only good BMX site and it’s an amazing website run by BMX’ers who really care about BMX and every other BMX site is just trying to do what we do but we were the first and we’re the best and we will always be the best. One time I saw these little fourteen-year-old kids at the store in some random town and I told them about the site and they were blowing me off like I was some weirdo. They had never heard of it. So I made Stevie Churchill take his bike out of the van and he did a whip off the curb, then he did a hop five and cruised down the street in a hang five. I made the kids mom write down the URL for them. I don’t fuck around, if I go to a skate park, I check with every single kid to make sure they check it and if they don’t, I fuck with them and make them promise to check it.

How many hours are you putting into TCU these days? It seems like you guys have so much shit going on.
It’s hard to answer that because it’s just 24/7. I’m always hustling even if it’s something that isn’t directly Come Up related. Like if I jump in the Volume van and go hang out with Mastroni and some of those dudes for the day and I just ride some spots and Instagram a bunch of pictures of the team riding, is that work? It doesn’t feel like work but it’s good, Volume appreciates it and it helps a little. I don’t know, nothing really ever feels like work. I don’t just decide to stop working at some point during the night. If I go to the bar and get a couple drinks I might come home after and answer emails for a few hours. And also if I’m sitting here reading a book about philosophy, I feel like I’m working. Because I’m reading and learning something that I might be able to use for something eventually.

That makes perfect sense. It kind of makes it obvious that you didn’t just get lucky and now all of the sudden make a living off of BMX. You have paved your way and worked hard for what you have. And from what I can tell you have a genuine desire to give back to riding which I have a lot of respect for.
Yeah big time. Let me tell you some shit. So there’s an editor for one of the magazines. And I won’t say who because this is some he-said-she-said shit but I heard from a friend of mine that he said that we are a bad site because we don’t give anything back. He said that we don’t give anything back and that we’re selfish. So that was part of the reason I wanted to do this Mad Dog jam and why I wanted to start raising money to support fundraisers in BMX in general, because my first reaction was just to say fuck that dude, because realistically he’s not doing anything to help anyone else out either. He’s just saying that shit because he needs some reason to not like us and that’s probably just the first one that came to mind. But I kept thinking about it and I was like, you know what, we can do more. Like when the Aitken thing happened I might have donated my little $300 dollars or whatever just to donate something. But I realize that I’m in a position where I can do a lot more and even though I don’t respect said magazine editor sitting around judging my fucking philanthropy, we’re going to go down that road too. Like for me I was always concerned with just running the best BMX website and I never really thought about doing a charitable angle for the business. But we’re going to do that and we’re going to do a kick ass job and we’re going to raise a shit load of money for people in BMX who need it and I’m sure said magazine editor will still make up some reason to not like us but who really gives a shit about him anyway.

There’s the Adam22 we have all come to know and love.

I feel like we covered a lot of ground here. How about before we wrap it up we take a look into the future of TCU. Why don’t you give us your best guess of where things will be in five years time.
We really want to start a TCU shop in Los Angeles. That’s something we think we can do in the next year. If anyone wants to let us borrow fifty grand to do that, hit me up. And I just want to go hard with the events. We’ve already got the BMX Internet game sewn up and honestly; nobody is fucking with us. We’re so far out in front of everyone else that it’s not even funny. And we’re still so focused on making the website better. I’m still having a great time working on making the site better. But BMX needs a better contest series. I want to just keep doing events and learning and growing and I don’t see why we couldn’t get to the point where we’re doing huge contests. That shit has me really motivated lately.”

Go ahead and give a list of shout-outs and thanks before we end this.
Shout-out to all my friends, everyone I ride with, everyone who supports us and everyone who checks the site on a daily basis.

Of course I always like to throw in a little last words option to say whatever the hell you want so give it a go.
Today Alfredo, who is sick in bed because he just had ACL surgery, did a phone meeting with one of our advertisers and he was talking to them and they told him that they see all the improvements that we’ve made and that they appreciate it even if the industry won’t come right out and praise us for it. So that made me really smile, shout out to whoever said that, I don’t actually know who said it but shout out to him.

Alfredo Mancuso

So, introduce yourself for those who don’t know.
My name is Alfredo Mancuso Jr. I am from Lakewood, CA and I am twenty five years young.

Basically this is the first time people will be hearing more about your involvement with TCU. How did that come about?
Well Adam and I had been hanging out for a while, and he had mentioned that he was going to be hiring an ex girlfriend of his to handle the accounting for TCU. I always like having a lot on my plate and I enjoy a challenge so I told him that he should hire me instead. Once I analyzed his situation it turns out I had to literally restructure everything on the business side as well as handle the relationships with brands, vendors, and anything you can imagine a business is involved in like permits, bank accounts, loans, etc.

Well, although that sounds like you just kind of went for it, you actually have a business background right?
Yeah, I’ve always excelled in sales/customer relation jobs. I have a knack for numbers, and I have an international business degree from Cal State.

Well in that case, it sounds like Adam made the right decision with that one. What kind of projects have you been working on lately for TCU? Adam mentioned that you really wanted to make a push for the new upcoming iPhone app.
I think it turned out really well. I was able to free Adam up to use more of his time for creativity as well as give him my input on how to go about running the brand. The iPhone app is something that I think will be huge in putting us apart from our competitors as well as helping to get the latest and greatest BMX content into the hands of our viewers the fastest. Our app actually turned out even better than we imagined it and we feel that it’s really going to change the way companies, riders, and TCU interacts with our viewers”

Wow that sounds pretty rad. I saw a sample of it last night and I’m not to lie, it looks sweet. How much work went into making the app?
Originally we had it slated for an August/September launch which would’ve put us at about four months of planning and programming. It’s November now and I think we’re finally at the home stretch. Apple has very strict policies and we ran into a few problems as well as the launch of the iPhone 5 during the process.

So when will people be able to download it? And will it be free? You know BMX’ers like things on the cheap.
If all goes well, it will be done before Christmas and it’ll be a free gift from us to the BMX world!

I am stoked to see the final product and I’ll definitely be downloading it. Adam mentioned you seeing the potential of TCU at a point where he felt it was standing still. What are some of your personal goals with TCU for the future?
I think that everyone in the BMX industry always saw TCU as having huge potential, but it just lacked a little bit of direction and a little bit of pruning. I definitely see TCU as not only being the largest Media Company in BMX, but eventually we want to bring our platform into other action sports, as well as the mainstream in general. We have so much brewing that has us so excited that we wish there were more hours in the day to be able to handle all of them As Adam may have mentioned, we have our first official Jam happening at Rye Airfield to help benefit our good friend Brett Banasiewicz during his time of need. This is going to be a sample of our networking, event planning, and marketing skills that will eventually be utilized to launch our very own contest series and that is going to be huge!

That all sounds rad and I can’t wait to see it all come to life. Any last words for the BMX world?
Watch the Throne Ha-Ha.

Chris Long

Lets start with your name, age and hometown.
My name is Chris Long, I’m 29 and I am from Billerica, MA.

So how is life as Adam’s personal bodyguard?
It’s pretty good. I usually spend my day protecting him from everybody that’s he’s ever pissed off. Which is pretty much every person he meets.

Ha-Ha! Sounds about right. But for real, you and Adam go way back; how did you guys end up being friends on the East Coast and how did you end up living together in California?
Well Adam and I didn’t really become friends until he lived in NYC. I knew him before from just growing up near him, but it wasn’t until the summer of ‘04 or ‘05 I think that I started going to NYC and staying with him to ride. We stayed pretty good friends the whole time I would always make a few trips a year to go stay with him in NYC then one day we were talking about moving to Cali and we started planning on moving in the spring of 2010. By spring he wasn’t ready to move until fall. By fall I wasn’t ready to move yet. So he moved in September but by November I was ready to head out and I left Mass at the start of 2011.

And you have lived together since right?
Yeah it’s been two years now.

So what’s it like living with the infamous A22?
It’s not too bad. Our last house was pretty hectic living with six people it was kind of a disaster and impossible to keep clean. Now it’s just the two of us and it’s really easy to keep the house clean. Since it’s just us my true crazy OCD has really come out. He yelled at me one day because I kept washing his dishes. I’m crazy though and when I see dirty dishes I’m compelled to clean them. It’s pretty funny sometimes we can literally sit next to each other a day and not even talk to each other and it’s perfectly normal. Or we can just look at each other and know what the other one is thinking. It’s a lot like how my brother Matty and I are.

So, what is your exact involvement with TCU and how did that all come about?
I have been contributing filming and editing to the come up since the beginning really. As of late we started TCU T.V., which is really cool. Doing more interview style stuff is something I really enjoy doing. I help out in anyway I can though besides video stuff. I help run the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And right now we are working together on putting on the jam at Rye Airfield.

Well that is what I really wanted to talk with you about. I know you mentioned having the idea recently but it seems like things are in full swing. What’s the deal with this Jam we are hearing about?
Yeah one night we were talking about doing a skate park tour then it dawned on me that we were both going home for the holidays and we have access to this world class skate park so I just said why don’t we do one at Rye to start it off. Then I was thinking that we should do it for Brett. He is our homie and we all became really close when we went to China together last year. It all kind of just made sense. If we can use out ability to help our friend why wouldn’t we you know.

I have nothing but respect for you guys for doing that and I am sure Brett and his family will be stoked and appreciate the support. What kind of contest is it going to be?
It’s actually not a contest at all, it’s just all about BMX coming together and using what we all have and have access to in order to help a friend. It will be an open jam for kids to ride with the pros and also demos from the pro riders. We will have a rail jam with a cash prize. Other than that I want kids in the area to ride with pro riders that they might not typically get to see or meet.

That sounds like the recipe for an amazing time for everyone. I know we talked about getting some big name riders out there but who is on the wish list?
Well really anyone that wants to be involved I want to be involved. Adam and I have been reaching out to everyone and its kind of short notice and the holiday season so we understand it will be hard for some people. My personal #1 pick would be Jamie Bestwick. He’s my favorite human and he said he’s down! But just imagine some of the top names like Garrett or Dennis to a young kid from New England that wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet them. It would be crazy, I know when I was sixteen and met Van Homan I went nuts.

Those experiences can change a young riders life for sure. Well everything sounds good man; I can’t wait to see how everything turns out. Anything else you want to add?
Yeah, I want to thank you and Kurt for this interview. Adam and Alfredo for everything they’ve done. My little brother Matty Long for being trill as fuck as well as my Mom and Dad. Johnny Rich from Tip Plus! and everyone in BMX. I love you all, we are all brothers and I hope to see everyone at the jam. Also thanks for the support from every company involved so far. BMX isn’t about who’s better or who is sponsored by what company, it’s about all of us riding bikes and enjoying life.

That’s it for now. Hopefully you enjoyed an in-depth look at one of the most successful BMX sites of all time. As I mentioned in the intro sometimes you just never know what the column will be about week to week so don’t miss out when a new column drops. As always thanks for the support. Also be sure to check back next Wednesday for the forty-second edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me at and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jeremypavia.

10 thoughts on “Through The Lens: The Come Up. Past, Present and Future”
  1. Pete says:

    I just want to know more about Tony (the cat), when I saw that portrait of him above I was hoping for an interview or something. What’s his role in TCU?

    I’ve seen so much coverage of him over the years in pictures, videos and T shirts, I just wanted to know about a little more about him.

  2. Adam22 says:

    Pete, I want to do a video profile of him at some point. Look for that in the future.

  3. David says:

    Great interview. Love the Union and TCU. Kurt and Adam: you guys have the best job in the world. Anyone that can figure out how to make a living with something they’re passionate about is truly inspiring.

  4. says:

    hey adam22 i was was wondering if you would be intrested in doing a sticker/tshirt colabb/i have a black cat that i want to be popular like tony also i skate because i lost my chances for bmx either way get back to me ,allistair crews

  5. me says:

    So far up I can only see the shoelaces

  6. Tim Storrs says:

    these were dope I think the TCU store is going to bring your shit full circle big up

  7. Brandon Squire says:

    This was a really good read, I’m hyped to see what’s in store for TCU in the future. Also A22’s “fuck him anyway” attitude is something BMX needs more of.

  8. Inquisitive says:

    I want to know more about Adams online poker days, that to me is way more interesting than his Bmx blog. Like did he make a decent amount of money, or a shit load of money? Is that the only other job he ever had? Does he still play? Did the government crackdown fuck his flow up? Does he play in cansinos?

  9. One of the best interviews I’ve read in a long time, really enjoyed this! Personally coming from a flatland standpoint, I would been interested to know about the change to covering flatland more regularly, why and how that happened?

  10. Pat says:

    No mention of TCUMTB? Would have been great if the article also covered this and any other issues encounted



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