Photo: Steve Crandall
Tom Blyth is one of those guys who, prior to this interview, I didn’t know much about or what to expect when I sent over questions. I know he kills it on a bike and that he is into music. I also know that being on FBM means it’s required that you need to know how to have a good time. That was really about it. Coming out of the interview I’ve come to find out a whole lot more about the guy that surprised me and that he’s a lot more than what you might expect by looking at him and his riding. Take a look at what he had to say, a bunch of photos from Steven Crandall and Joe Cox, and some of Tom’s past edits, then leave him some love in the comments! This one turned out awesome…
Name: Thomas Reece Blyth.
Location: Steve Crandall’s house, Richmond VA.
Years riding: 13 years this December!
Photo: Steve Crandall
To be honest, I didn’t know which photo to introduce Tom with. The first photo he’s looking like a hardass, and this one he looks real friendly and approachable. I think these two photos can sum up my preconceived idea of Tom that he is this some what of a hard to approach guy, but it turns out that he’s really a friendly and easy to approach person.
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
My friend (Safe) Nath Rule got me into riding BMX when we were at school together. He’d been riding for a year or so already and I rode mountain bikes so we’d both hear about stuff the other had done on our bikes and we already knew each other a little from playing on the school football team together. Anyway eventually we started riding together and I learned to feeble grind on his bike (he only had pegs on the right so it’s probably his fault I’m goofy), soon enough I got a BMX as well and never looked back.
I remember we would sit in Sports studies class together and he would bring in copies of DIG or Ride, even the custom riders catalogue and we’d just blow off the lesson to look through them, it was pretty awesome. I also remember riding miles and miles in the dark after school to go and ride in the villages where Nath and the other riders lived. We had a couple of sets of “trails” in South Cave and Brough, a tiny mini ramp in Swanland and Rock City Skatepark in Hull but we didn’t go there for years because Nath said skateparks were gay haha. There was also a scene a few miles away in Willerby / Cottingham where the kids travelled to different parks and all rode General Lee’s and we started to hang out with them after a bit although they were all way better than we were at the time. There was a kid called James Fraser that we used to stay with, his friend Jodi Booker and Martin “Mad Jack” Towler that we used to look up to and another guy called Steve Dunn who owns the local BMX shop (Cottingham Cycle Centre). As time went by it seemed like Nath recruited a load of the weirdos he knew into our little scene and it got bigger over the years even when most of the Willerby / Cottingham dudes started to drop out and get into other things.
We were this weird gang of social retards that only cared about riding bikes, we shunned all the popular kids, who didn’t know what to think of us, and just did our own thing, it was awesome!
Photo: Joe Cox
How are things going with FBM these days? What does Crandall and crew have in the works for you this summer?
Things are really good, I’m really proud to be a part of something that I grew up idolizing as a kid, I feel very privileged. It’s by no means perfect, we’re all really good friends so of course we have our run ins from time to time and the FBM business model isn’t the easiest to make profitable haha, so resources are always tight but we all totally believe in it and in making something awesome so that there’s still a brand, a voice, events and products for the antiheroes in BMX. Support FBM and the other brands that support BMX!
Your signature frame, the Bellwitch, is getting pretty close to production. How long have you been working on that? What are some of the features and specs of the frame? When can we expect that beast to come through?
We’ve been working on it for nearly 2 years I think. The process of getting stuff made in Taiwan is laborious and time consuming and I’m an obsessive perfectionist so it’s taken a long time to get everything exactly how I want it but we’re pretty much there now, just waiting for the final prototype before production.
The frame is 100% King Diamond endorsed and has a 9″ stand over, 13.65″ rear end, 11.6″ bottom bracket height, 75 degree head angle, tapered seat and chain stays, inverted cross seat stay bridge and artwork by French which looks awesome! I’m still tinkering with the seat tube angle a bit but all being well they should be available by Christmas in all good bike shops!
Peek at Tom’s signature Bellwitch frame (No, it’s not an Angel of Death even though that frame was badass.) You can find more shots of Tom’s bike at the bottom.
You recently went on Megatour 10 with FBM as well. How did that go for you? What can we expect out of you and the FBM guys when that comes out? Any good stories from the trip?
The trip was great, I’ve always wanted to go to Austin and I met a load of amazing people that I’ve always looked up to as well as some old friends that happened to be there at the same time. Throw in the FBM team, a cool filmer that gets it and Darryl Nau and you have the recipe for a good time! Fire Beer Mousetraps! No Hobo…
How are things going with Odyssey and G-Sport these days? Do they have anything in the works for you this year?
Things are really good, they keep my bike rolling with awesome parts and everyone there is really friendly and helpful. I’m only on there on a flow basis really so no big plans involving me that I know of but if anyone over there is reading this you know I’m down for whatever, whenever ha!
Any other sponsor news you have been psyched on lately?
I have French working on a signature Savakas shirt for me which I’m really stoked on, it’s going to be grim!
Photo: Joe Cox
What’s your travel schedule looking like this summer? Do you have any plans on getting back over to the U.S or anywhere outside of England yet?
I don’t have plans to go anywhere else this summer as of yet, I spent all spring in the states so I maxed out my 90 days and blew all my travel budget so I need to go home and save up some cash and do some filming over there. We’ll see what comes up though…
Anywhere you would like to get to that you have been itching to get to?
I’d love to go to Scandinavia, San Fran would be rad, Prague, there’s also a tone of places I’ve been to that I’d like to go back to for longer like Boston, Tulsa and Austin.
Have you been filming for anything lately? What can we expect from you outside of your stuff in Megatour 10 that I’d imagine will be out soon?
We’re filming for an FBM video at the moment so I’m focused on filming for that really. I’m trying to film a part that won’t completely pale in comparison to the likes of Mike Tag, Bob Scerbo, Vic Ayala… the list goes on… so it’s a tall order.
Where have you been riding lately? Any hot spots you have been psyched on?
Since Megatour mainly just in Richmond but we stopped in Nashville and Tulsa on the way back from Austin and they were both really good. I’ve also dipped out of town a few times to go to Upstate NY and I’m about to spend the weekend in Philly. The plan was to get out of Richmond much more but I injured my foot about 2 weeks after Megatour so I’ve had to spend the last month and a half taking it easy / re-injuring myself when I do get carried away.
This question seems to always end up being pretty funny. What’s one trick that you can’t do for the life of you?
Haha where to start! I have so many nemesis tricks: downside double peg grinds, nose wheelies, turndowns without bending my legs, I could go on all day…
Photo: Steve Crandall
Let’s say you could load up a van with 5 riders, one photographer and one filmer for a weeklong road trip. Who would you bring and where would you go? Any reasons why?
I would hate to have to plan that trip because I’d have to leave far too many people out!
What has been keeping you psyched on BMX lately? What’s one thing BMX needs more of, and one thing it needs less of?
Just riding with friends and traveling keeps me psyched. I’d like to see some more characters in BMX and fewer energy drink new era hats.
What do you think you would be up to if you never got into BMX?
Probably something lame. I bet I’d be much better off financially though haha.
What are you usually up to when you aren’t riding? Do you work or go to school at all?
Until recently I was working as a postman but I had to give it up to come here / move back to Hull. Never be afraid to quit a job to do something cool! I did go to school too but I graduated with a degree in Zoology in 2006, I still make a point of educating myself as much as possible though so I try to read as much as I can, watch documentaries etc…
Aren’t you in a band? How has that been going? Where can we check out some of your music?
The band is going good, we’re having some problems maintaining a stable line up but hopefully we can figure that out when I get home. It’s hard to find people dedicated enough unfortunately but we’re getting there slowly. You can check it out at www.parasitized.co.uk.
Photo: Joe Cox
How long have you been playing music for? What do you play?
I’m just the vocalist, I don’t play any instruments but I’ve been doing that since 2004.
What are 5 bands you think people need to check out?
Piss Bucket Parasitized That’s it, haha.
Could you see yourself pursuing music after BMX, or is it just something you do for fun?
Yeah, I think more than likely that’s what I will do, I’ll need something to continue ruining my life with when I’m too old to ride. I think I have a good few years left in me though…
Photo: Steve Crandall
I know you heavy metal guys know how to party. What makes for a good night out for you? Any wild stories you care to share?
Nothing in particular, just good friends, good music and good times!
How are the ladies treating you over there? Do you prefer the girls in England or the girls in the U.S? Any reason? I’d imagine the girls love your accent over here.
Haha, the accent definitely works to an extent but it’s by no means a guarantee! A lot of people automatically assume when they meet me that because I have an accent I must be getting laid all the time over here, but in reality I could fall into a bucket of tits and come out sucking my thumb.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I hate all hot drinks… even tea.
Photo: Joe Cox
What are some things you would like to accomplish in the next few years?
Just more of the same really, riding hard, traveling and learning about cool shit! I also want to make some progress with the band, write a full length and tour etc. That’s about it for now…
What’s the last song you heard, movie you watched and website you visited?
Only Ash Remains by Necrophagist, Candyman and Titty city.
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks to you for doing the interview, Crandall, Kenny Horton and everyone at FBM, Ian, Dean and everyone at 4 down, everyone at Odyssey / G sport / IMG distro, Brian Osbourne at Duffs, James at Savakas, Steve at Cottingham Cycle Centre, French, my parents, Hull locals, all the HHH, Richmond locals, everyone who’s given me a spot to stay at and looked after me on the road (you know who you are, I won’t forget it) and anyone I forgot.
Anything else you want to say?
If it’s not ruining your life, you’re not doing it right.