Re-Print: The Alex Donnachie Interview
The most sarcastic BMX interview ever?...
6 Nov 2014
Interview and photos by Fred Murray / Additional questions and intro by Dan Paley
Originally printed in DIG 96 - Youth Of Today - Sep/Oct 2013
Alex Donnachie, the wee man, the big man, the destroyer of cereal and anything he approaches on his usually 'Haribo themed' bicycle is probably watching BMX videos or planning his next attack on a bowl of Coco Pops right now, but underneath his humble, sugar loving, petite appearance, hides a warrior ready to battle with enough fire inside him to toast all the bread in existence for those baked beans he loves so dearly. I actually owe Alex so much for stuff I've leant on my bike, from my general attitude to learning tricks and filming. Alex is always having a blast with the biggest grin imaginable on his face and I can't help but think it has influenced me hugely to just have a good time and have a more positive outlook on things; that's why I love riding with or just being around Alex. His energy is uncanny and if I'm having a shit day you can guarantee Alex will have me crying with laughter in no time.
He's quite witty for a wee lass and all this adds up to the fun loving persona Alex exudes. I can remember when I first met Alex he looked about ten (and probably wasn't much older) and he was riding a full-size BMX boosting around the park, having the time of his life, leaving me amazed to how much such a small child could throw a bike around like he could. Ten years later and nothing much has changed except he rides street and has a freecoaster. I could go on all day about what makes Alex such a naturally stylish and progressive person, but the magazine deadline is tomorrow and I'm pushing for time writing this as it is. All in all, if you ever get the chance to ride or chill with Alex, you will understand why I wrote these very words and what goes into making him such an awesome person and BMX rider. It's a typical case of 'never judge a book by its cover' because even though he looks like he's about to start secondary (high) school, Alex is pure fire and definitely knows what's up, although his fetish for gloves and gyros is a complete nightmare.
Sponsors: BSD, 20Twenty Store, Vans, Ftlty.
FM: When did you finish school?
I finished two years ago when I was 17.
FM: Did you flunk or get results?
I got results yeah but not the best. I should have left earlier in 4th year if I'd thought about it, but I just stayed on because it was the easiest thing for me to do, rather than go and find a job.
FM: What do you do at college?
An HND in Visual Communications.
DP: What?! (Laughter)
It's like designing posters and adverts and stuff like that… For the two years I been at college I've not even really been there that much and not really learnt anything.
FM: You were saying you get paid to go to college? How much do you get?
It's like £200 a month. I pretty much spend that on train tickets and food.
FM: Where do you live?
AD: The middle of nowhere. The closest town is Perth.
FM: You don't drive?
AD: Nah, I don't have the money to drive. My mum and my brother both drive and they usually help me out.
FM: What does your mum think of BMX?
Yeah she likes it; she always encourages me to do it. She says "Do what makes you happy."
FM: Is she glad you wear a helmet?
Yeah, she's happy about that! My brother gets injured a fair bit riding downhill, so…
DP: Don't lie Alvin, you're the downhiller in your family! (Laughter)
It looks well fun but it's just getting back up the hill that is the problem.
FM: Who's better at riding?
I'd say he is. He's goes fast down hills, and I go slow on ledges.
FM: When did you start riding?
As soon as I learnt to ride a bike, when I was four or five. I always enjoyed being on my bike.
FM: How old were you when we first met at Starsfield Trails (Alex's old trails)?
I must have been 13 or 14. You'll need to look up my Low Profile in DIG.
FM: Back then you were pretty much just riding trails.
Yeah, there were no spots at all around me - I didn't even know what street was then.
FM: What videos were you watching then?
I guess because I was kinda mountain biking…
FM: What? You rode mountain bikes?
I always had a BMX and then I mountainbiked for a bit when I first moved to Scotland from England. I was about 11. When I was about 12 I went back to BMX again. I had a few videos like 'Cassette', 'No Front Teeth', etc.
FM: So just UK stuff?
FM: What got you into street?
I can't really remember, I guess it just happened over time. I'd go to the skate park and it would always be busy, so I'd want to just go ride somewhere else. I always enjoyed riding different stuff, so I started exploring my local area.
FM: When did you first travel on your own?
I remember the first time we went to Derby Storm Skatepark we had to get the train and then a taxi. I had to put my bike in the taxi, it was such a hassle, but it was so good. The taxi driver was ok with it.
“Well, like I said, I wake and bake with some coco-pops…"
FM: Was your mum ok with you travelling about?
Yeah she was ok. I was kind of responsible enough. I think the first time I took the train was to Stirling Skatepark when I was 12 and I fell asleep and just got woken up in time to get off at the right stop.
FM: Would you say you're fully grown now? (Laughter)
I think I've got a bit more in me. I need to work on the upper body strength. I've never been to a gym ever. I really want to go on one of those running machines - they look like so much fun. I know that if I'm stronger everything on my bike will be easier.
DP: I can run a mile in less than six minutes.
I think that's a world record Paley…
DP: I think 4:20 is the world record. (Laughter) It is! Actually!
FM: What was your first memory on a bike?
I remember trying to learn how to ride it. I remember the first time without stabilisers on. There was one time; it was the first time I biked to school. I had stabilisers on. I remember riding along down a path and the bike just started swaying about, but I didn't know what was happening so I kept riding. I ended up falling down a hill with a load of stinging nettles at the bottom of it. I was covered in nettle stings and had to go to primary school crying. (Laughter)
FM: What do you friends who you went to school with do now?
I guess a lot of them just take drugs and drink every weekend. They don't do anything at all. Work all week just for the weekend.
FM: Do you ever think about being older and what your life in BMX will change?
I don't like to think to far ahead in the future. I just think about what's happening in the next few weeks and months. You can't think too much about the future. You never know what's going to happen.
FM: What was it like being in a bathtub full of your favourite meal, cereal?
It was surreal. I wish I could have eaten all the Cheerio's out of the bath. I felt like I was in a dream. (Laughter)
FM: How often do you eat cereal?
Everyday. Morning and night. I'll usually have a bowl of cereal just before I go to bed. I wake and bake with a bowl in the morning too. (Laughter)
FM: What is your day-to-day life like when you're at home?
Well, like I said, I wake and bake with some coco-pops, then get ready, head to college for most of the day, come home and if it's dry I usually go to Coupar Angus skatepark a few miles from my house.
FM: If it's raining do you watch TV or play computer games?
No, I don't really watch much TV. I just sit and watch BMX videos I guess. I watch a lot of skate videos too.
FM: Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes, I have a girlfriend… (Laughter) She's very nice.
DP: Aww, my wee bear! (Laughter)
FM: Do you ever take her to the movies?
Of course, yeah.
"I feel like maybe I could have got a bit of compensation there! I've yet to write to McGoo about that though..."
FM: What other dates do you take her on?
Err, I'm trying to think…
FM: Does your mum let her stay over at yours?
Yeah she's cool. My girlfriend lives kind of far away so…
DP: "No gallivanting now Alex!" (Laughter)
FM: What's your favourite social media?
Well currently it's obviously Snapchat. I hate Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is good now and then.
FM: How do you feel about one trick edits?
Umm, when it's a joke I think it's ok. Truck to footjam whip in… Waaheeyyy!
FM: What's you favourite section of all time?
FM: Do you want to come back to that?
Yeah, I need to think about that.
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FM: How excited about seeing the Deadline DVD?
I can't wait!
FM: Would you ride 60 miles to get a copy of it now?
DP: I'd ride to Garrett's house! (Laughter) If Garrett called me up right and said, "Listen, you can get a copy if you ride all the way to SD." I'd be like, "Homie, I'm on my way already!" (Laughter)
FM: Favourite three riders?
It's obviously Dan Lacey and Alex Kennedy. They're my favourite two main riders. The third one is so hard… I don't know, Chase D, David Grant..
DP: What about Spencer Bass? (Laughter)
Yeah, obviously him. Really anyone who does nice barrel-roll whips. (Laughter) Ah man, I don't know who the third one should be. Yeah, I think it has to be Chase D. But then there's Garrett Reeves, I really like him… I really like Kevin Kiraly's stuff as well. I like his edits; he takes a lot of time making them.
FM: We'll just put them all in the third bracket.
FM: What scares you trick wise?
Tailwhip or just going upside down.
DP: But you can tailwhip both ways as well!
I know, but it just scares me. I broke my arm in half on a flyout tailwhip when I had Snafu barends. The whole weight of the bike, through the barend on my arm.
FM: Are you blaming it on Snafu? (Laughter)
I mean, I'm not saying it was their fault but I feel like maybe I could have got a bit of compensation there! (Laughter) I've yet to write to McGoo about that though.
FM: I think it's only a year warranty on bones though…
I've still got the barends but I don't want to put them on. I just run Hitch barends now. (Laughter)
FM: When was the last time you did a tailwhip?
I think the last time was when I wanted to show Kriss (Kyle) that I could do hop tailwhips. That was out in Greece with BSD. They're just scary.
FM: What are your 'No No' tricks on street?
Kickflips. It's a fun trick to do but I don't really like watching them. It's like a no-footer. I definitely do no-footers all the time but I don't like watching them. (Laughter)
FM: Is that the same with Nothings. Does it feel cooler than it looks?
Haha, yeah it definitely feels cooler doing it than it does looking at it on a video!
FM: What about turndowns?
I guess it needs to be done right.
FM: Have you ever done a 179?
Yeah, back when I was a child. (Laughter) Bitch cranks too. It needs to be mentioned! I was going to say 4-piece bars too. Dan Paley has a signature pair coming out soon, look out for those! Sorry, I mean 12-piece bars attached directly to the stem with a KHE internal. (Laughter)
FM: What was your first rail?
It was in a town nearby. It was probably the shortest rail ever. It was like a bike length long. Then after doing that I got a bit obsessed with rails and for the next few years all I wanted to do was peg rails.
DP: How do you feel about having input on a company that you saw potential in, just to have it taken away and sold off to a larger company, thus giving you no power in said company?
It's a nightmare Paley, I don't know what to say… a complete nightmare. (Laughter)
FM: Did you ever own a scooter?
No, they weren't even around then. Scooters are the worst things ever. They're fun to go on, but I just hate them.
FM: What would you do if a scooter rider came up to you and asked if they could go street riding with you because they really enjoyed you last edit?
I'd tell one of my bigger friends to go deal with him. (Laughter) It's not really scooter riders or scooters in general, it's just scooter kids who don't look where they are going. It's dangerous. It is the same as a kid on a skateboard or bike, but there are just so many more of them on scooters. All the shops saw there was money to be made and bought so many. It's dangerous to even ride the skatepark now. I've ridden in to kids the past few times I went to the park, and you just end up getting hurt and it's not even your fault. It's annoying; that's why I'd rather just not go to skateparks. Unless there's a resi to be rode, of course… (Laughter)
“There were no spots at all around me. I didn't even know what street was then."
FM: How do you handle security guards?
Well if I've not knocked them out straight away (laughter), usually I'll just try and be nice. If you're a dick then they will tell you to leave and the spot gets skate stopped or whatever.
FM: Do you remember when you were chopping that bit of metal off that ledge in Edinburgh?
Haha, yeah that guy was so angry. He grabbed my helmet and swung it at your face. That was a bit of a scene that day! Fred was just tackling this guy trying to get my helmet back (Laughter).
FM: I had all my camera gear on my back too!
There was the one time we were outside Queen Street Station too. I was trying to do this thing off the wall and Mad Mick (Glasgow local) was there. The security guy grabbed my bike and I couldn't get it off him because he was massive. Then Mick just went up and grabbed it and eventually got it off him. The police arrived and asked the security why he would grab my bike. They were cool and let us on our way. Some people just don't get it… there's a lot worse going on in the world.
FM: Favourite part of all time?
Ah, I haven't even thought about it! There's always Van Homan 'Criminal Mischief' but I feel like everyone says that.
FM: I thought you we're going to say AK in 'Talk Is Cheap'…
Yeah that is amazing, but I feel that in a few years he's just going to have another section that is just going to be so much better than that. He's only just starting.
FM: How do you feel about gloves?
Gloves, ehhh… I like riding in gloves. I guess there's a bit of a glove joke going on recently.
FM: Are you just waiting for that energy drink sponsor to come in?
Yeah I feel like when that happens I've really made it! (Laughter) There's a lot of bad and good with those sponsors, but it's just about money really. I don't know many people that actually like the drinks. Apart from Kriss… I'm sure I saw a set of wings the other day (laughter)!
FM: What about contests?
If I had the choice I would never ride in a contest.
FM: What happened at Rebel Jam?
Yeah… we rented a pedalo boat and didn't see any of the contest. I wanted to watch some but we ended up getting the pedalo and that was it! The whole weekend spent at sea. I wouldn't have liked to have to ride there. I just don't enjoy the idea of competition.
FM: So we won't be seeing you at Dew Tour.
Well, I think they might have just got my address wrong or something (Laughter). It gets more people to see BMX, but it's just not for me really.
DP: How much more thought needs to go into a shoelace that is used as a belt?
Well, I would say to any company looking to make shoelaces for belts, why not make laces for shoes? Just an idea… I mean, I'm no Einstein or anything… (Laughter)
DP: It's like making hand socks. Will there be a nightmare collab? The Nighthitch. (Laughter) It's just a black shoelace…
FM: Anything else? You didn't even pick your favourite video part…
Just a no thanks to Maoam for not reply to my sponsorship request emails… (Laughter)
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