There is one word that can sum Russell up pretty quickly, and that word is “awesome”. He has been killing it for quite some time now and I felt it was time to see what he has been up to. There is some real good insight on his riding career, real career, and life in general. There are also a lot of really good stories. Plus, he has pretty solid advice for those of you who might end up in prison someday. We even got Rick Moliterno to throw in a few questions, so check out the interview, and leave him some love in the comments!
Probably 10-12 knowing what BMX is. I always jumped curbs and loved riding around downtown before I knew it was a real thing.
What was it that first got you into BMX? Any early memories come to mind?
I vividly remember seeing Rob Nolli do a superman in the first X-gaymes on TV while on a vacation in South Carolina, haha. Hooked instantly. Coincidentally, I had a friend that I didn’t see very often that also got into riding because he lived by some trails. So the next time I saw him we went to the trails, my front wheel flew off, and we saw a kid break his finger — best day ever. I ended up buying my first “real” bike from that kid — Dyno VFR!
Photo: Jake Giesel
You have been on Standard for quite a while now… How are things going with them? Anything big going on involving you and them?
It’s awesome. Nothing like sig. frames or any of that stuff. I have a custom 250, so that’s like a signature bike…only it’s just for me, haha. The new shop is going strong and they’re cranking out some amazing stuff. I’ll be going up to Iowa this summer and I would assume I’ll get/give a few HJ’s and ZJ’s from/to Rick. So that’ll be sweet. Probably some over-unders too.
What about the rest of your sponsors? Anything awesome?
Yes, very awesome. Ballpark and I have a new, signature frank coming out. They’ll be anatomically correct 100% beef injection molds made from a certain part of my body — they’re delicious and fit in buns perfectly.
I’m watching the STA part, and I am instantly confused. Do you ride a freecoaster or no? Explain.
Both. Freecoasters are awesome but they all suck and aren’t reliable at all. I like aspects of both cassette and freecoaster, so I ride both. It’s just whatever trick phase my head is in at the moment. Most of my STA part is really old footage (we’re talking at least 4 years old when the video came out) so it was before I even tried a freecoaster. It sucks sometimes, because I’d love to just have the best of both worlds. I like the engagement and reliability of cassettes, but with a freecoaster I like a lot of slack. I haven’t tried one of those externally adjustable freecoasters yet. Maybe they’re the answer but I doubt it. So I just go back and forth when I feel like it, variety is the spice of life right? Unfortunately my freecoaster is fucked right now, so I don’t know when I’ll be getting on one again.
It seems like you have to be pretty legit to be on Standard these days. Who did you have to kill to get on the team?
First question is funny to me though. What do you mean by legit? Everyone “on” Standard is just a dude that shreds for themselves and doesn’t really give a fuck about what people think about it. If that’s legit, then yes.
Speaking of that, what is your automatic weapon of choice?
Chainsaw — automatically awesome.
How’s the scene where you are living these days? I would imagine you are riding with Miles and Tony a fair amount?
Good and quaint, haha, like always. I’ve always told people it’s sweet enough that I’ve never had a desire to move somewhere else like Austin or something sorta close. There’s not a whole lot of riders but everyone knows each other and is cool to one another for the most part. Tulsa is like a big city, but small at the same time. I’m totally a product of my environment and I’m happy with that. I ride with Miles and Tony a bit. Our lives are on different schedules basically. I work all day and ride at night, they film all day and party/chill at night (this is just a generalization). I’ll usually meet up with them on the weekends though. I ride with Aaron Anderson, Alex Vazquez, Dylan Morris, Hawaiin, and Mike Shaiko a lot too.
Photo: Kyle Kisling
Briefly describe the first and last time that someone on a bmx bike just blew your muthafuckin mind.
I was at these trails in this shitty little town and this dude shows up. I don’t know who the fuck he is but he is just oozing badass. He’s got the oakleys, he’s putting on the leopard print knee and elbow pads, and he’s on a Hoffman. BADASS. He proceeded to 360 and then flip the “trick” jump. I was astounded. I was seriously dumbstruck. I just witnessed that shit in person!
That new DUB jam video. The riding in that thing is crazy!
I heard you can hop a 45 pound bike higher than your own?
Hahaha, I wouldn’t say it was higher, it was about the same height that I can hop on my normal bike.
Is there an aspect of your riding you always want to pursue but never do?-Rick Moliterno
I wouldn’t say NEVER, but some of the gaps and shit I see I just can’t bring myself to do them. Just not brave enough. It sucks too, because I feel like if I see it, then I should be able to do it. And I really hate walking away from things. I’m not the 3 bitch runs and get it done guy, I’m the take a million run-ups, learning more about it every time, then finally do it. Some people hate that, and I’m sorry if we’re riding together, but it’s just the way I think. I think a lot and am very meticulous. It’s just the way my head is and I’ve accepted it. I’ve done most of what I’ve seen and some have been really hard for me mentally. There’s still some out there that I don’t know if I’ll ever do.
Have you been doing much filming for anything lately? When can we expect to see some new clips of you?
Yeah I’ve been trying. Doing work with Miles and Tony and then also with Chris Mahaffey when we get the chance. I’m working on full parts for them hopefully but I’m not going to stress out and make riding not enjoyable to get them done. You’ll be seeing a little webbie vid soon. I have 2 breaks in my foot right now, so I’ll be making the vid with some new footage that’s not going to Chris anymore (he’s all HD now — what a snob!) and some used stuff that was in my BNQT bio and maybe even some older stuff from the Standard video. Just something sweet and with tricks that I was most psyched on. The kids are calling them remixes nowadays, so I will too.
How much do trends affect your riding?-Rick Moliterno
I’ll be honest. I do follow trends, everyone does in some way no matter how much they deny it. I just do it moderation. I try to do things that are “cool” but then also do some stuff that’s weird or different. I’m really into doing ironic things I guess. Like, lately I’ve been all about can-cans or other silly tricks and doing them in “cool” places like down stair sets or something. I guess the same can be said about my clothing even. I started wearing tie-dye because I thought it was silly and it made me smile. Now I’m seeing kids wearing it and companies selling shirts. I’m not saying I started a trend, because I HIGHLY doubt that, it’s just weird. I’ve noticed a small resurgence of old school tricks and it makes me really happy.
With Summer coming up pretty quickly. What do you have planned riding wise?
I’ll be sweating profusely and getting tanned skin. Nothing really out of the ordinary honestly. Hopefully I’ll be heading up to Iowa for a week or so around the time of Extravajamza (June 20th, everyone go it’s amazing). Just riding my bike a lot more and driving my car a lot less. Hopefully some good trips come up, but if not, oh well.
If you could go on a road trip with only 5 people, who would you bring, where would you go, and why?
I’d take two Tulsa legends: Big Aaron and James double D, Drew York, Fergie, and Rick. I have THE BEST roadtrip memories with Aaron and James. Same with Drew and Rick actually. Some good times on SBC trips! Fergie just because he’s basically the sweetest dude I’ve ever met. With that crew, it wouldn’t matter where we went honestly. So hard to narrow this down to 5 people. Can’t I just bring everyone?
Photo: Kyle Kisling
Who is the biggest animal on SBC in your opinion? Benny P claims he didn’t have a part in the video because you didn’t want him making you look bad?
Yeah, I begged Benny not to do anymore inverts over spines. I guess that equals no riding at all. As an animal, Drew comes to mind instantly, but when I think about it there’s so many. Rick — duh. Jonah — such a badass and is an eccentric person and I really like that in people. Benny — has no front teeth as a result of being an animal. Rob Ridge — just wow. Watch his part on vimeo, so amazing. Greg Litecky — no shirt, cigs, awesome. Jeremiah — because he’s literally a lumberjack, like, literally. Doug E Fresh — he’s a racer that’s jumped the church gap. There’s just so many. I just love everyone on Standard that I’ve met. It’s everything BMX is, but at the same time, everything that it isn’t if you know what I mean.
Out of the whole team, who do you think you could take in a game of checkers?
Fucking hell, probably no one. I don’t even know how to figure an answer for this haha.
When it comes to riding, are you very picky with what you want to ride or are you able to shred a curb and be completely satisfied?
I’m happy to ride a curb! One of the last times I rode before I broke my foot we sessioned a curb in front of the skatepark, haha! I’m not picky at all. I never pick spots because I like showing up with a fresh imagination instead of going in with intentions of doing something I’ve already called out but sometimes I do that too. It’s weird, haha. I started out riding trails, always rode street, and ride skateparks too, so I will seriously ride anything. My imagination always wins and I end up wanting to do stuff that’s weird to other people. At its extreme it borders on not even being BMX at all sometimes, like riding on a cable/wire or something with no tires or tubes — tightrope/circus style. Like, hopping in and out and everything, maybe even tricking out if it works, but I just want to see if the bare rims will ride on the cable/wire like I think they will. Is that BMX to people? Lately, the thinking has translated into about a million thread-the-needles, so nothing too weird there. I’ve thought about making a whole part with NO tricks in it, except hopping, wallrides, manuals, those kind of bike manuever type of things. I don’t really know if I’d include spins or not. It’d be like, gaps and just weird ways to use a bike at normal spots or just doing things at really weird spots. Just bare bones, creative riding, but the intention is that it wouldn’t be boring and it’d still be a sweet video part. Kind of hard to explain, but it makes sense in my head — a problem I have a lot!
Do you envision yourself as an “older” rider yet?-Rick Moliterno
Yes and no. I know I’m not actually that old and that there’s a lot more shredders out there older than I am. Typically at home I am the oldest dude in the session though. I don’t really care because I don’t feel old (unless I’m around kids who don’t know what video Forward is — WOW). Most people don’t even realize I’m 27 until it comes up somehow. They think I’m younger.
Photo: Jake Giesel
If you could change anything about BMX, from removing people, events, places, or anything like that, would you? If yes, what?
I don’t know man, that’s a hard question. It’s like when Marty’s sister or whatever is disappearing from his photo in Back to the Future. If you change something, then the world we know now will be different. You know, cause and effect. If that’s true, then probably not. BMX is what you want it to be, so if you don’t like it, that’s your own fault. I think a lot of people are driven in a negative way by the industry and coverage because they want to be good at something. They think that being “pro” is the only to be good or to ever succeed and that sucks to see. Why not stop stressing over the popular tricks you think you should be doing and do some tricks YOU want to do? Like I said, BMX is yours, it’s what you make it, I do whatever I feel like so I love it. Um sorry about the tangent there, back to the question…If I could change something without changing how BMX is now overall, it’d definitely be the highschool/popularity contest I’ve noticed sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked everyone I’ve ever met, I get along with pretty much anyone. But there’s been times when I’m chilling with a rider, and a “cooler” person comes around, and I no longer matter to them. I haven’t experienced bullshit like that since highschool. Very petty. But fuck it, through all the lost friends, friends quitting, friends changing, people acting shady, people being unnaccepting, etc I will and do still ride (obviously, ha).
Do you have any real good stories involving cops, security, homeless people, hookers, or pedestrians because of BMX?
Last year’s Extravajamza after party was wild. A lot of people started claiming couches and floor space to crash. Space ran out quick and I started to get annoyed with all the overly drunk people anyway so I got an AMAZING blanket from someone and went to crash outside. I thought “what would a dog do?” So I cuddled up in the corner next the building, away from the wind. I’m asleep fast and for at least an hour. Eventually someone starts waking me up and I instantly think it’s some drunk dick, so I’m like “FUCK OFF I’M SLEEPING!” Well, it was a cop. He ends up being surprisingly nice, takes me to his cruiser, where I sat for like a damn hour, and he’s trying to get me to get someone inside the house to let me in. Turns out there was a major brawl…like, iron fence posts thrown like spears through cars and shit. Cops had shown up and everyone locked the place down pretending like no one was there. Well, I play dumb saying that I’m from out of town (I was) and that I don’t have any numbers (lie). Eventually they just put me in a random, unlocked parked car with another dude, Duckman, that they found under a tree or something. They eventually leave, the garage door opens and we go back in, haha. I proceeded to whine a bit because I was so salty from being caught up in it when I was actually trying to get away from all of it. I got over it. Awesome memory now.
Homeless people (kinda):
We were down in OKC for a CFB years ago and staying at our friend, Nick Stout’s place. His neighbors across the street were amazing. 2 of the ABSOLUTELY WORST/BEST rednecks I’ve ever met. They eventually were named “All Out Punch Out” and “Riversnake” (not the Square One Riversnake, a blatant copy). Wasted the whole time. Drinking what they were calling “whoooooooooooski.” My buddies James and Mitch among other things, went in their house without them knowing, raided the fridge, pissed on the couch with a passed out dude on it, and stole the TV remote. When the 2 came back home, James and Mitch were changing channels and volume from outside the house and these guys were flipping out and couldn’t figure it out. Eventually James and Mitch just cranked to volume to max and threw the remote in a field. They blamed it on some kids down the street that didn’t even exist and the rednecks went to go find them. I can’t even remember everything these guys did. They were on another level.
You used to rock some dreads. What happened to them and will they ever make a return? Were you bummed when that trend died down?
I hated them for a very long time. My girlfriend at the time (wifey now) and I had this deal where I would keep them until I proposed to her, because she really liked them. She obviously made that deal thinking it was going to take forever, which it didn’t. I eventually proposed and cut them off minutes later, haha. They will never make a return. They were absolutely miserable to ride with. They went down to the top of my ass and would whip me in the face all the time. They weighed a ton, especially wet. They were extremely hot. I was every hippie and goth girl’s dream guy. I can’t even count the number of times I got offered weed from random people at random times, which I suppose would be sweet if I smoked. Just, no. It was never really a trend in my opinion. There’s always just been a few people who have them, not like every kid rocking big bars and skinny jeans.
Photo: Kyle Kisling
What do you think you would be up to if you never got into BMX?
I don’t know. I’d like to think it was something similarly unique and individual. BMX was the first thing I was interested in that I discovered on my own, not through just doing whatever my step-brother was doing. I pretty much quit all the conventional sports I did at the time because I hated coaches and wanted to ride more. Maybe art, but I hate the baggage and douchebaggery that is attached to that word. Who knows. It’d be interesting to find out though.
I see you work as a graphic designer. What’s that like, and how’s it all going?
It’s horribly awesome. I don’t want to say that working 40 hrs a week is awesome, because it’s not and I don’t think humans were meant to spend the majority of their lives working. However, design was my way of making it all not so bad. My specific job is great. I work at the county health department, which sounds so uncool and domesticated. I’m the only designer, the majority of the deadlines are soft, decent pay, good benefits, lots of payed time off, and a lot of flexibility. So basically it’s a job where I do something that I enjoy, there’s low stress, no competitiveness, and I can go on trips pretty much whenever I want. Seems pretty perfect at the moment.
I’d imagine you would have to go to school for something like that? Did you do that? Finally, would you advise people into going into that kind of career?
A lot of people hire on portfolios, so you don’t technically have to have a degree to be successful. I went to TU and got a degree after several years of trying out another major. It’s definitely a very expensive way to raise your chances of success, but school just doesn’t work for all people. There’s just SO MANY self proclaimed designers lowering the value of real design work out there. Photoshop does not make you designer.
How do you feel about the way design is done these days? If you could add or remove anything what would you do different and why?
Well it’s just like everything else, there’s amazing work out there and then there’s those things I see that just make me want to drop a machete on my foot. I don’t think I’d really change anything aside from me getting an easy job for a milli. I mean, my philosophy is less is more, well not mine but I borrowed it, haha. So if every designer thought that, I’d be even more of a little fish in a big pond.
If you couldn’t ride professionally, or work as a graphic designer, what could you see yourself doing for a career?
Um, I was doing video stuff in school before I got this weird vision of me working at the local news station as a cameraman or an editor and I instantly wanted to castrate myself. So maybe I’d be doing that and would have realized there’s better jobs out there (that I probably wouldn’t have gotten) than the news station shit.
What kind of partying are you into? Safe and sober, high intoxication, or strippers getting their noses broken status?
Depends on who I’m around. When I’m around all friends, dude party 5000 style I definitely like to get down. Compared to some of my friends though, my raging is very tame, haha. On average though, I’m definitely a chiller. I’m real big on drinking brews by the fire with the wife and homies. That type of thing.
If you were given enough money to live for the rest of your life without any fear of running out. Would you still work? Would you change the way you live or work right now?
I don’t know, if I worked it wouldn’t be very much at all. Enough to kill boredom maybe, but if I had that scrilla I’d be riding jet skis or some shit when I got bored. If I had no fear of ever running out you can best bet I’d be globetrotting like a mother fucker. I’d try my best not to change as a person but I’d definitely change the way I live. I’d buy Kelly and I’s dream home and have the typical BMXer stuff and bunch of dude toys. I’m trying to live life man!
What are 5 of the most important things in your life?
Kelly, BMX (or rather the enjoyment it gives me. I doubt it’ll change but it could be croquet when I’m 60, who knows), being happy, family, and Taco Bueno.
First song to come to mind? What about first movie?
Kid Cudi — Day n Night
What’s your favorite video game cheat code?
First one that comes to mind is the blood code for the original Mortal Kombat for the Genesis. The one that’s probably brought me the most enjoyment is the weapons cheat on GTA3 (the newest system I have is a PS2). But you can’t forget the classic — the 30 lives code for Contra on the original NES!
What are some things you would like to accomplish in the next few years?
Make those couple video parts and be satisfied with them (this year I guess). Buy a commercial building or multi-floor garage and have the first floor be the craziest ramp set-ups I can think of and the upper floor(s) our home. Continue being happy. Get out of the country more and ride my bike in new cities.
If you were put in prison, what would be the first thing you would do to make sure you didn’t look like somebody they would want to mess with in the showers?
Probably steal the first shank possible, slash my chest in a ‘Z’, Zorro style and then scream “I HAVE AIDS BITCHES!” while charging at everyone while I’m covered in AIDS blood. Hopefully that’d work.
Photo: Kyle Kisling
What would it take for you to drop kick a young child? Would you do it for $1000?
When I worked at the skatepark I would’ve done it for free…to every kid that came in.
What is the most embarassing story you can tell us about anybody in BMX? Do it, you wont.
Some real goodies come to mind but I don’t feel like I can tell them because I didn’t experience them first-hand. However, this dude that used to ride with my first little riding crew in the small town I grew up in went on a blind date. The girl had no arms or legs. How do you think he felt when he realized she was his date? What do you do? He had no teeth though, so it’s cool. I never understood how he talked to her on the phone.
What is the best advice you have ever been given, or able to give?
I don’t know but I like these things:
-Less is more
-Moderation is key
-Live fast, land flat
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Kelly, for sure. My mom and Kelly’s parents too. Rick and Jess at Standard, they’re the best. The Team Iowa dudes for being sweet to me before they even knew me, Drew, Fergie, Danny G, Jake H. Anybody that’s ever pointed a camera my way, especially Miles, Tony, Kyle Kisling, Jake Geisel, and Chris Mahaffey. Matt Coplon for just being a genuinely good person. He had me at hello. My boss Melanie for being most excellent. The Tulsa locals that make it so fun to ride here: Mike, Big Aaron, Lil Aaron, James, Dylan, Hawaiin, Alex, I definitely forgot someone — sorry! Kurt, for having me do this. It was really cool to do. People on the internet who have been a fan of my riding. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Anybody that’s ever let me crash at their place. Anyone who’s ever looked past the quiet and reserved first impression I give off and gotten to know me instead of just thinking I’m a dick. ThAnKs GaIz!
Anything else you want to say?
If you made it this far, thanks. I felt like I got kinda wordy, but fuck it, it’s what I had to say.