The first person who had suggested to do an interview with Mark was Kyle Carlson. I think he asked me about 10 times since this started when it will happen too. So, I finally got it done, and this is what’s up. If you aren’t aware of Mark for some reason, he is the “TRAILS KING!”… totally kidding, but you anonymous kids know who he is now. He is the owner of Deluxe and past editor for numerous magazines. This interview has a lot of good insight and stories. Enjoy, and leave some love for Mark in the comments!
Dorset, South Coast UK
Er… Deluxe BMX?
Since 1980, 81… so that’s… 28 or so years riding BMX bikes. Ouch.
What was it that originally got you into BMX?
Just the usual – friends getting into it, BMX being the ‘hot new thing from the USA’ and all that. I’ve always been in to bikes since I was little, thrashing around the neighbourhood on bikes with my brother Chris, so when this BMX invention thing came along at the turn of the eighties we jumped in with both feet – it’s a perfect bike to thrash round on.
You are the man behind the new brand Deluxe. How long have you been working on this and how do you feel it is turning out?
I’ve been toying with something with Deluxe for a couple of years now – at 4130 we almost launched a magazine with the same name, around ’98 – it was later launched as Level Magazine, which we did for a couple years. I’ve always fiddled with frame designs and so on, for years. I did a prototype flatland frame with Proper when they started out, years back. So, with the name in mind first, I started work on it at the tail end of 2006 – I say ‘work’, but back then Deluxe was just a creative project, something I could do as a side thing, on weekends and evenings, just designing and making things with some mates etc. Bit of a laugh really, nothing serious, a bunch of people in the industry do it, several of my old colleagues at the magazines did it – so I figured why the hell not? We printed some T-shirts, drew up some frames and bars, got some friends involved, got stuff made and people are stoked on it, feedback was really good. Deluxe started out as just a creative project really… I had some creative urges, besides putting everything I had into making the magazines at the time – I worked my frickin nuts off for that mag company. But now the magazines have been taken out my hands and there’s nothing I can do about it, Deluxe BMX is now pretty much full-time for me, almost – I have some other good projects in the works too.
I had a chance to check out some of your frames at Interbike. When will they be available and what else do you have in the works?
Frames are out now – here in the UK, in France, Germany, and Australia. In America, we’re working with Undrgrnd Distribution and product should be in America in early Spring 2009. We also have sprockets now, and come early 2009 we’ll have bars, and a few more items… nothing too crazy, all really good stuff.
What is the team looking like for Deluxe right now, will there be any additions anytime soon?
I think we have a rad team – I’m stoked on the guys, really stoked. I couldn’t have asked for more, really. Over here in the UK we have Davros from Bar End, Louis who also does Aversion BMX, and Frog from the L’Boro trails. In America, I’m psyched to have Mark Mulville on board now, and in France we have Pompom from La Source Trails. All these guys are down for trails for life, and that’s what we’re all about.
Deluxe is a trails specific brand, what was it that made you want to be that specific about Deluxe?
Well, lately, I’ve been riding trails more than anything else – although, to make this crystal clear now, I’m into ALL aspects of BMX, I always have been, and always will be. I’ve done it all, and I love all of BMX – flat, vert, street, parks, trails, racing, just rolling down the street and doin’ wheelies and skids, whatever, I’m into it. I think it’s bloody hilarious how some anonymous commentators on Thecomeup have somehow figured that I’m some sort of “trails king”, or that I now “own trails”, or something – haha! Far from it! That’s hilarious! That was never my intention of course, but some misguided people have thrown their various toys out of their prams I guess – perhaps they think that they’re Mr Trails instead, and I’m somehow encroaching on to their segment of bike riding or something. Whatever… I imagine that comes from their lack of experience or history I suppose. Anyway, with having Deluxe as a bike project, I just thought “let’s do something a little different”. I didn’t see much sense in doing something creative and then making it just like some other company, like just doing another Sunday or FBM or something. So, that’s why Deluxe is focussed the way it is – it’s all about the trails… the products, the riders, ethos, the lot! And feedback has been better than I could have hoped for – it’s been great thanks. Good times…
Is there any other big news with Deluxe you can tell us about like videos, trips, anything really?
Well, we’d like to get the guys together and have a trails trip in Spring 09, do some filming and shoot some photos, get some good times under our belts. We’ll develop some more products, but nothing that’s unnecessary or just another me-too product. Like, people have asked us if we’re making Deluxe cranks – I don’t think there’s much point since Profiles are already out and are pretty much the standard. I did have an idea about doing a stem, but Mark Mulville’s new Profile stem looks perfect, so there’s no need for a Deluxe stem now, and we’ve all got them on the team. And forks – we’re not doing forks, since we all run Pitch Forks or Odyssey Races, and they’re dialled. So, we’ll focus on what we really want to make.
What do you feel seperates your company from all the other companies out there?
Aside from the trails focus, we also made a pledge: I wanted to give something back to BMX, somehow, and after a good deal of thought, I decided from the outset that we’d give ten percent of our annual profits to the Stephen Murray Family Fund as a long-term commitment. That was the case when Deluxe was just a project – and it’s still the case now that Deluxe is a bona-fide brand – ten percent will always go back to helping Stephen Murray. That dude is an inspiration. I remember way back from when Stephen was a wee nipper on the UK Titan race team, then through those early years, the Murrays were progressing riding all the time, racing, dirt jumping, UK king of dirts, I recall shooting photos of him and Martin for Haro ads in the 90s, and so on. His story is something else… and I just felt inspired to do something. All being well and with Deluxe becoming a success, hopefully we can help out, somehow, long-term.
You have been in the industry for quite a while now from Ride U.K to what you are doing now. What do you feel has changed the most since you got involved years ago?
I’ve been in the BMX business for about 21, 22 years – I began full-time editing the magazine here when I was 18, so you could say it was my life’s work. So through those years I’ve seen BMX come and go, then come and go again, and in all that time, the biggest thing, basically, one word. Internet. When Chris and I started Invert mag in 89, and then Ride magazine in 1992, we didn’t have emails or anything online. We barely had a fax machine! Riders relied on their BMX information coming out every two months in the magazines, or from the latest VHS tape passed round, or phoning each other talking about BMX – on landlines no less – the trickle-down information coming from media was slow, and, if anything, that made it all more precious: magazines were the key, literally everything hung off the mags. The BMX pros made their name through sustained appearances in magazines and on video tapes, they were proper heroes. Now, the internet can instantly give anyone and everyone five minutes of fame through a web edit or whatnot, and so printed magazines and even full-length videos are less important now. I mean, some are still important – but only if they are done right, rider-owned, and if that magazine or video has a tangible quality to it and not chucked out like something from a sausage factory, banged out just to appease the shareholders. Video wise, there are still good titles on the way, and I’m really looking forward to when Anthem 2 comes out for example – but it’s gotta be enjoyed on a good TV with good sound, not a laptop monitor. You gotta be sat down on a couch with a brew to enjoy the video, not click it online. If it’s truly good… Like, I can watch Fully Flared every single day of the week and not get bored. Our old BMX videos which Alex Rankin used to make at 4130 were awesome, namely Cassette and No Front Teeth. But the internet has changed everything – how quickly products are produced, changed and rated, how you buy and sell BMX product, who is ‘famous’, even the lifecycle of a pro, or even of an entire brand. It’s changed how BMX companies market and advertise their products too – in the old days, you had just one avenue for your ads; the magazine. Now, you have tons of choices – some would even question what’s the point in even advertising in mags these days, as video edits can be made cheaply, hosted online for free, and circulated for free. That’s almost free advertising! I’d support the rider-owned magazines for sure, but otherwise, what’s the point – especially at the corporate prices they charge for page ads these days the end-result is that the magazine owner would get himself a new BMW X5 I suppose, but what good is that for BMX? Also, with forums, everyone considers themselves an expert, everyone has a voice, and everyone can listen – or, you can just turn it off and go ride. A 16 year old rider tapping away on his laptop in his bedroom after college can make a more popular BMX website than a professional media company based in a London city office. I know bike shops in England who have a bigger websites than the so-called media owners. A good writer using a stock blogger template can easily have a more popular website than, say, a media company’s site with a full-time editor, developer, and a web designer and so on and so on. It’s nuts. So, everything is in more riders’ hands now, more so than ever, the BMX cake is sliced up way more than ever before – it’s changed everything. The turnaround has been amazing. Does it make it better though? That really depends on the age of the person you speak to I guess… myself, I love the change and how people react to it. It’s awesome.
How are things between you and Ride U.K since you had left? I remember hearing it wasn’t exactly a fun situation.
I’m sorry, but I’m afraid my lawyers have told me I’m not allowed to answer such specific questions… that’s all I am able to say on this precise subject at this moment in time.
Over the years you have had the chance to travel quite a bit. Where are some of your all time favorite places you have been?
Oh man, plenty. Oman, France, Germany, Australia, Denmark, Portugal, tons of places in the States, all over this little island of ours, I’ve got a ton of miles on the clock. I’m lucky enough to live in a truly great spot, so my home is my favourite. Travel is always interesting, for sure. Even if it’s just a couple hours up the road to a new riding spot.
Where are some places you would really like to go to at some point?
Trails in Southern France, to shoot some photos there, PA, Florida, and New Zealand looks amazing. I hear Canada is great too.
With being so busy with getting the company off the ground, do you find much time to ride?
With the projects I have, and getting Deluxe going, I’m reasonably busy. Working on product ideas, dealers, distributors, the back-end of the business, and then communicating with the team, helping them out, doing graphics with Chris, updating the site with Deluxe news with Patch, sorting out orders, the stock, and just figuring out what the hell to do next. I’ve never run a bike company before, so it’s a real learning curve – but, having watched countless companies over the years when we were running the magazines, I hope I have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, so I’m trying not to make too many mistakes. That, and spending time with my family – I have three young kids now – and balancing a good life there is really important to me, and working from home, waiting for the weather to break, and so on… I can’t just drop everything and ride as much as I’d like to of course, to be honest. No worries. But when I do get to ride my bikes, I cherish it.
Who are some of the people you ride with on more of a regular basis? Where can you be found riding usually?
Just with the guys at our local trails, most of the time. It’s a world away from everything, up in the woods, so peaceful and quiet, totally back to nature. I love it up there.
What do you feel is the reason that keeps you into BMX after this time?
Haha, I have no idea. It’s just me, I love it – it’s ingrained, it’s what I’ve always done… I can’t see myself changing or quitting any time soon, that’s for sure. Having done BMX for 28 or so years, it’s kind of in my blood.
What tricks do you feel like you will never get sick of doing?
Just the pure feeling of riding a bicycle is more than enough… but, now my limbs don’t come off and I don’t go round in circles. Those are my personal rules… though, I love a backside boneless on a mini ramp. I’ll never get sick of just riding…
Are there any tricks you wish you could do but never been able to figure out?
Oh man, so, so many. A giant, sweet and slow tucked 360 for starters. I’d love to do it all… actually, some more rolling tricks on flatland would be awesome too. I kind of got out of competing flatland at the time it suddenly became super-hard and Kevin Jones was unleashing a whole new world upon us – at the time I was working more and more on the magazine, and I decided to focus on the mag and so my competing fell by the wayside. This was around ’88, ’89. I had a few rolling tricks on the go, but… The K changed everything.
If you could change anything about BMX, what would you change and why?
I only have some personal business changes I’d like to make, and hindsight is 20:20… Does anyone have a spare time machine? And a lie detector? Generally though, I’d change nothing about BMX. Actually, thinking about it, I’d ban clip pedals in BMX racing. Clipless shoes and pedals ruined BMX racing in my opinion. It’s awful; I believe it prevents kids getting into racing – they think “do I have to be bolted to my pedals to be good at this? Screw that…” I think clips have ruined the pure fun in racing, the essence of it. I’d change that in a heartbeat if I could.
What do you think you would be up to if you never got into BMX?
Honestly, I have no idea. During school I had a fleeting desire to be an architect… but I was too busy riding…
Have you ever considered working outside of the BMX/Bicycle industry?
Nope – I don’t think I could, full time… the bike industry is where I’m at… my mind is bursting with business ideas though. My wife Cheryl runs a baby clothing / equipment shop that focusses on fair-trade, ethical and sustainable goods, and I help her out with that at the online end of things; it’s really good actually, to apply what I know to something completely different. Her shop is dialled…
Outside of work and riding, what are you up to?
A lot of family stuff, helping our boys out with school etc, watching our baby girl grow, helping Cheryl out with her shop, things like that. I’ve also been hands-on with getting a proper concrete skatepark built in our town. I’ve worked on the campaign, with our skatepark committee, for at least eleven, twelve years now… and in early November this year, actual construction has started on our concrete park, which is massive news. Diggers are in, it’s taking shape right now and it looks so rad. I can’t wait to see that park up and running – it’s in a great location, and we worked hard on the design and layout so it’s good for everyone whether you’re old, young, skate, bike, whether you’re good or not, something for everyone. It’ll be awesome when that opens, in March 09. After that, when the park’s finished, I’m going to work on getting a pump-track built in town, which will be easier than you think… I just think it’s really important to get involved and get stuff done like this for the local scene, for the riders and skaters around. Plus, of course, I’ll get to ride it too…
Do you still do much writing? Other than the posts on the Deluxe site, where can people find some of your recent work?
For the moment, I don’t write now professionally, due to an old legal contract I’m restricted from writing for any other media people until the end of ’08, just a couple weeks. I’ll be writing again soon, and I’m looking forward to it.
Do you do much with photography these days?
Point and shoot, that’s pretty much it it. I love a great b/w film photo, with no fancy equipment, just the good light and composition. Good grain, light and dark, composition, etc. Last time I photographed riding was at Empire of Dirt, Decoy session, just for fun – I got some good’uns too, I think.
How do you feel about college? Did you go or was everything you have accomplished self taught?
I never went to college, from school I went straight into editing BMX magazines at 18 years old. And everything along the way was based on the best educator – personal experience, and a drive to make things better all the time, do good things for BMX and try and make a good mag for BMX. I think too many people go to university for the wrong reasons – like today, I heard that there are more students in University doing Media Studies than there are media people working in the media Industry. What’s that all about?
What kind of music are you into? Any bands you suggest people check out?
So much. Right now, this week, I dug out a lot of old AC/DC – Cheryl bought me a load for my birthday. But I’m into a hell of a lot of different stuff… actually, my friend’s band is really good, check them out – Superhet Receiver. They’re awesome. Charlie the drummer digs at the trails, and rides a Deluxe frame…
Have you seen any good movies lately?
Last time I went to the cinema was on my eldest son’s school trip, last Tuesday morning! I was helping his class out with a school trip. It was all right…
Do you spend much time on the computer? Any favorite websites?
I spend all day sodding long on the computer – emails, sites, designing, whatnot. Way too much… I have a whole slew of sites I look at – all the usual big BMX sites that are on the ball such as Vital BMX, Thecomeup, Defgrip, FatBMX, Ride USA, SPRFLS, BMX Union, Prettyshady.com, VBS.tv, Vimeo, EXPN, a lot of bike shop websites to see what’s what, and then after that, Craitap, Lakai, then a lot of smaller sites. Too many to list…
If you could have a lifetime supply of anything, what would you choose and why?
A lifetime of Good Times please.
What are some things you think everyone should experience at some point in their life?
Erm… parenthood. That truly reboots the system, for sure. It realigns everything… your priorities, your outlook, your drive… everything.
You know you love Mark Mulville!
Who or what are some of the biggest influences on your life?
My family first and foremost… that’s the biggest influence right there.
If you could spend the day with anyone, alive, dead, or ficticious, who would you pick?
Easy – Bob Osborn.
A perfect night out includes…
Good friends, good times, good food, good live music, good banter, good venue…
What is the Mark Noble approach to women?
Find your special one. I did… man, I got lucky.
Have you ever been in a fight or arrested?
Luckily, not yet. Close, but no cigar.
Can you tell us a story about the craziest thing you have ever witnessed/experienced?
One time, bloody years ago, when Scott Carroll, R.I.P, and I went out to Oman to do shows for a couple weeks for a British trade expo, we were at a drinks party at a British Embassy. This place was next door to one of the Sultan’s palaces, which by the way had anti-aircraft guns in the garden for security. Anyway, we were chillin on the balcony, taking in the beach view, having a couple drinks with the posh-knobs, and this pick-up truck with a cow in the back pulled up onto the beach, and the blokes inside unloaded the cow onto the waters-edge and ritually slaughtered it right there in front of us – slit its neck, job done, dead. Then they simply loaded it back onto the truck, blood all in the sea water, and drove off. It was weird… Oman was a great trip, experiencing that sort of culture, really good times.
If you could change anything about the world, what would you change and why?
Tolerance! I wish people were more tolerant, oh, and forward thinking – people should really look after this planet of ours because I’m pretty sure we only have one.
What kinds of advice do you have for somebody looking to start a company, or get involved with writing?
Just do it. Business wise, just learn by your mistakes, then don’t repeat them. And don’t trust everyone, or believe everything they say; I made that mistake… but I’ve learnt from it, and won’t do that again – so, be careful with the things that are important to you. Writing wise, just do it – write what you feel like, what you experience, and what you want to read back. With access to creating blogger sites and so on, you can be self-published in seconds. Don’t wait for a magazine to come knocking on your door, just get started right away… get some mates together and make a ‘zine or something too, get some printed, get creative, why not?
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Thanks to my wife and kids, my extended family, my friends, and hello to the people we worked with through the years on the magazines at 4130, it was amazing while it lasted – there were good times and tough times, but we did it for the right reasons – and thanks to the people who have helped with Deluxe BMX, so far so good. Onwards and upwards… Thanks!
Anything else you would like to say?
Take it easy, and enjoy the good times.
Be sure to check out DeluxeBMX.com.