Stew Johnson Interview by Markus Wilke
foodboy interview by markus wilke
name and age?
Stewart Johnson and i’m 25 years old.where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The BMX scene there mostly
revolved around racing and dirt jumping.
when and why did you start riding?
As long as i can remember, i’ve always ridden my bike. But i didn’t realize
what it was until i was about 12.
what’s your attitude towards riding these days?
I tend to focus more on fun instead of learning stuff. I see all these kids
throwing their bikes and getting pissed off. I think that if you relax and have
fun then progression will come naturally.when did you move into the fathouse?
I moved into the Fathouse sometime in 1994.how many people lived there?
On the average, about 10 people lived there. But at one time
there were as many as 16 people living there.
what was an average day at the fathouse like?
Get up around noon, go to the trails around 1 or 2, ride until dark, go
home and ride street or mini for a couple of hours, and then hang out on the
porch for the rest of the night.
do you miss living there?
I miss hanging out with Crazy Joe, Crandall, Magilla, Mike Tag, and all
of my other friends. Those guys are like my family. But i don’t miss living
in a shit hole.
what’s your current living situation?
Right now i’m basically homeless. I’ve been travelling across the country
for the past five months, from couch to couch. But as soon as winter comes,
i’ll go back to Austin. It just doesn’t get any better than Texas.
when and why did you start making videos?
Mike Tag and i made 1201 in the summer of 95. It just seemed like a really
fun thing to do. Plus we wanted people to know that alot of our friends are
badass bike riders.
what is a good bmx video made of?
Alot of things. I think that good riding, editing, filming, and music all
play an equally important part of the video making process. They all compliment
how would you describe the style of your videos? in which ways differs your
concept of video making from others?
I think that my style changes a little from video to video. I
don’t want to keep making the same video over and over. I think that if you
don’t keep constantly changing, then your work gets stale. That’s half the fun,
trying to do something different.
what goals do you try to achieve with your videos? is there something you try to say with
I just want to be able to watch my videos and say “that’s why i ride, because
it’s fun”. To be able to look back and be reminded of why i rode. It’s kind
of like a little movie of a certain time in my life that i always want to remember.
And also to give my friends the credit that they deserve.
do you watch other bmx videos? if you do, which ones do you like?
As far as influences go, i’ve always liked old Eddie Roman and Dave Parrick
videos. Ride On, Head First, and Trash are the classics. Baco 5 and 6 were pretty
ground breaking. As for new videos, Daryl Nau did a good job on the Little Devil
video. The new FBM video is just about the craziest video i’ve ever seen. And
Jeff Zalenski’s “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” has some of the most technical street
riding ever. But to be honest, i don’t really get into bike videos too much.
I really prefer watching skate videos. Jamie Thomas and Dan Wolfe put 110% into
their projects and it shows. The BMX industry could learn alot from skateboarding
as far as quality goes.
what kind of music do you listen to? what kind of music do you put in your videos?
I listen to all kinds of music, but lately i’ve been listening to alot of
emo and punk like Fifteen, Mineral, Farside, Pedro the Lion, Hot Water Music,
and Far. In the past, i put way too much punk rock in my videos. I think that
a good variety of music keeps the video interesting, and i’m really going to
focus on that more in the future. what videos have you made so far? Mike Tag
and i made 1201 together and i made Lights Out, ANTHEM (home of the brave),
and the 1999 TREND bike video. I helped film for videos by FBM, Standard, Primo,
PUSH, and Props.
I’ve been doing alot of work for Props lately, and i’m filming a lot for
ANTHEM II.with what kind of equipment did you start out and what do you use today?
I started out with a basic deck to deck and have graduated to
the wonderful world of computer editing.
who supports you? is there anyone who helps you out with editing, filming, music selection,
Steev Inge has always supported me. Bob Goosley, Chris Hallman, and Chris
Rye have all helped out on projects. Joe rich, Taj, Ed Davis, and a few others
have helped out a little with filming.
what do you like better, riding or making videos?
Riding is always more fun, but when you have a finished product in your
hand, it’s worth all the time and effort.
what do you think about the current bmx revival in the states?
I think that it’s good that more kids are being exposed to BMX. But i think
that it sucks when all of these big evil coporations get involved. Where were
they six years ago? They didn’t give a shit about BMX then, why should they
now? They are only in it for the money, and i think that is dangerous. Support
the companies who are in it for the right reasons.
plans for the future?
I just want to go back to Austin and relax for awhile, start getting my
ideas together for ANTHEM II and really focus on that. I want kids to feel like
they are getting their moneys’ worth.
is there anything else you want to talk about?
I just want people to think about their actions and who they support. And
not just in BMX, but in everyday life. The deciscions we make on a daily basis
have a great impact on our lives and the lives of everything around us. I know
that alot of people don’t want to think about politics, but i think that if
we want to change the world we live in , then we have to take certain steps
to make that change happen. You’ll see what i mean when ANTHEM II comes out.
I really want to get people thinking.
do you want to thank anyone?
First i would really like to thank my family (especially my dad) for their
love and support. My girlfriend Maggie for putting up with me, Joe and Taj at
Terrible One, Crandall and the FBM crew, Chris and Marco at Props, Ryan Corrigan,
Ruben Alcantara, Ed Davis, Steev Inge, Mike McHue at DK, Chris Hallman, Jason
Stieg at PUSH, all the people i ride with, anyone who has ever picked up a shovel
or built a ramp, all the people who have ever helped me out, all my good friends,
and Markus at Freedom for this interview. thanks. -stew.
Text: Markus Wilke