Re Print: The Bruno Hoffmann Interview - Too Much Too Young
If you go your own way, you cannot be overtaken.
8 Jan 2015
Interview and photos by Fred Murray Intro by Martin Mahlert / First published in DIG issue 87 March 2012
Resilient bacteria mostly develop in unmonitored and harsh environments. As they reach places with more mild conditions they manage to duplicate and thrive. Eventually infections and mass panic catch the media’s eye, forcing the industry to come up with a cure as fast as possible to prevent a widespread zombie apocalypse. With Bruno Hoffmann the story is similar, the difference being that his overall skills are so sickening that a cure is not in sight. He originates from the industrial iron mining town of Siegen, deep in South Westphalia. Even if you have been there chances are that the only thing you remember is a highway bridge and a skatepark built by Bible thumpers. Statistically Siegen is one of the highest ranking cities when it comes to rainfall in Germany, yet still this place has proven itself as an ideal breeding ground for a solid crew of street riders. Taking a look at the origin is much more interesting than putting a focus on future prospects, since the Bruno epidemic is unstoppable anyway. Generally put it is too easy to write something positive about Bruno's place in BMX. He has not even finished school and can already look back on countless team trips, edits, television appearances, a signature frame and his face on an energy drink can. All this happened without him ever asking for it. His achievements are the product of his pure organic growth into the German BMX scene. He was first noticed in jams and contests at the age of eleven. Anyway you put it that is a very young age, and being underage in BMX does not only bring benefits, especially when you giggle like a little girl. German street rider Dennis K. prides himself to this day with having stuck Bruno into a trash can when he was still too little to defend himself. By now Bruno has mutated into a jack of all trades: a leader of the new school as well as a seasoned veteran. People actually spend their time on the Internet discussing if his hat falls off his head too often. Despite all the attention his general approach to things is calm, carefree, interested and positive. He is one of the few people who realize that if you go your own way, you cannot be overtaken.
"By now Bruno has mutated into a jack of all trades: a leader of the new school as well as a seasoned veteran. People actually spend their time on the Internet discussing if his hat falls off his head too often. "
What’s your hometown like?
It’s just an industrial, working class town and used to be pretty famous for iron mining. There’s big hills around which are man made mounds of the shit they didn’t use. They’re pretty crazy; it makes the area look a bit like the Moon. Back in the day everyone used to work in the mine, even my Grandad. I think it’s a pretty good place to grow up, but there’s just not that much to do. It seems like either you turn 18 and get a car or maybe play football half your life. Kids playing computer games… I don’t know. There’s a riding scene there that keeps getting bigger and bigger, but there’s just not many options. My friends and I just try and get away a lot.
When I was there I noticed that it consisted of pretty much just street riders. Do you have any park riders?
Nah, we don’t have many really. Our local skatepark has a jump box and everything, but because the park is kind of small everyone just seems to ride the pyramids. Throughout the town there’s a bunch of okay spots, some nibble spots, curbs and a few ledges, so yeah, we’ve got lots of street riders. I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but I kind of think I played a part in that a bit. In Siegen everyone knows each other, so everyone knows me through seeing me around or in videos. Back when I started riding you would be so happy to see any rider with a shitty Walmart complete bike. You’d say ‘what’s up’ and go ride, but now you see kids every day with expensive ass bikes, people coming in from other towns. The past 2 or 3 years has been crazy.
Do you think street riding is becoming a bigger deal now in Germany? Maybe even more popular than skateparks? Yeah, there are definitely some areas where it’s more popular, like in Siegen, but give it another few years and I think it will be more so. I’m psyched that all the kids from my town are going about doing grinds and manuals and all that stuff. There’s dudes in my town like Eddie, my brother Carlo, and Mario who are sick as shit right now, I’m just stoked on all of them and that my town represents.
Do you think being from Germany, rather than the US or UK, has made it harder to make a living off BMX? Hmmm… that’s a good question. Obviously in Germany it’s not the same as in America, but Europe wise I’m pretty psyched on it all. I think sometimes the German riding scene gets overlooked and put into a certain category, but I can’t complain. I’m just psyched how everything went, but I’m not gonna sit here and give thanks to God or anything like that!
You told me a wild story about doing an abubaca when you were a kid. What happened with that?
There used to be a spot right behind my house where the town would dump dirt and store a bunch of stuff. When me and my neighbours were little, we started riding there and building some ramps which we would jump on mountain bikes. Then I got my first BMX and it was the heaviest piece of chrome shit ever, but had two perfectly working brakes. Anyways, I had this bike and I was trying an abubaca on this kind of quarter pipe. At the highest point I started falling backwards, landed on my back and knocked 7 teeth out with the crossbar. It was pretty crazy, I was so shocked I couldn’t even say anything and all my friends started crying and shouting because we were so young.
Did you pick up your teeth?
Nah, they were still in my mouth but just hanging there by the nerves. I had to go to the hospital and it was a fall day before school started again. Just as we got to the hospital there was a power cut for some reason, so there we were with no lights and my mum holding a flashlight over me while the doctor pulled out my teeth. I didn’t have any teeth for about 6 months, but luckily they were only baby teeth so the big ones started to come through after that. (Laughter)
Talking of injuries, you have problems with your wrist?
I fucked the bone in the middle of my hand 2 years ago, nearly to this day, also here in Malaga on a 3 stair 180 wallride. I messed up and landed on my hand. Then last year in San Diego I tried to 360 a fence and broke my wrist. It was fine as it was a straight break so I was only in a cast for 2 weeks, then I started riding again and everything felt fine, then after Simple Session, the first time I rode outdoor I messed up my wrist again on a 540. Since then it has been hurting a bunch. It feels better lately, but I just don’t have the flexibility I used to have in it. I think I will get it checked out again when I go home…
Where are you at with school? Are you nearly finished?
If I do well, I will be finished in May 2012, so about 4 months from now.
What’s your favourite subject?
Haha, I don’t have a favourite. For the last 3 years you have to pick 2 main subjects to study, so I chose English cause I think it’s pretty easy, and also history just because I’m more into subjects where you only have to talk and write, not like maths, chemistry, biology, etc. They suck! History is kind of interesting for me because Germany has had such a crazy past and it’s interesting finding out how all of that could have happened. I mean it wasn’t Nazi Germany overnight, it was a whole process. I just think history is really interesting in general. I don’t have a clue about certain dates or people that did this or that, I just think it’s important to have a rounded knowledge of what’s happened and happening in the world.
“ ...it’s important to have a rounded knowledge of what’s happened and is happening in the world.” - Bruno Hoffmann
You also seem to know a lot about DIG’s birthplace, Belfast in Northern Ireland? How come you’re so interested in 'The Troubles' (Google it) ?
I don’t even know really, I guess it’s just because it’s so close to Germany really. This past year in school, you could choose one topic in each subject and instead of a general exam at the end, you just do a big piece on it, kind of like a really long bit of homework. I did mine on the Northern Ireland troubles and asked if it’s a social or a religious conflict. I came to the conclusion that there’s no real answer to it, it’s just so fucked up. It seems a little like these days it’s more of a social conflict with religion being used as a cover. I don’t know… I just chose to study it because Ireland is so close and I want to know what is going on. When you see everything getting fucked up each year during the Orange Parade, it’s so confusing. It’s hard to know who’s on what side, what’s going on, what side the police are on, who’s protesting for what… I couldn’t draw a final conclusion, but my teachers were pretty psyched on how I wrote it.
What about all the keyboard warriors complaining about your hat falling off?
I think it’s funny as shit! I mean I don’t care… why would you care?! Right? It’s funny. I’m definitely not going to change it or anything, sorry.
How was it getting driven about and riding spots with Ruben while we were in Malaga shooting for the second part of this interview?
Just chilling with Ruben in Malaga… I wouldn’t say it’s a dream come true, but it’s definitely a big day. I remember the first contest I ever went to was the Worlds in Cologne, Germany and Ruben won it. I think that was back in 2000, I wasn’t actually riding at that point. I was just in Cologne with my family, it was a weekend afternoon and luckily we showed up just before the street finals. I remember Tobias Wicke was doing massive 360’s over the subrail and Ruben doing wallride up to manual and all that stuff. That was crazy to watch, and now chilling with him 11 year later in his town… I remember seeing him with his brown cargo pants, blue Macneil, straight cable and two brakes… I’ll definitely always remember that.
Was that a contributing factor in you picking up a BMX for the first time?
Kind of, I didn’t start riding straight after though, it was about a year or so after when I started. I was always just riding or skating in the neighbourhood, I just liked being outside.
What riders have inspired you?
I think as I have a pretty boring story of how I got into BMX, like watching X-Games on Eurosport, I guess at first it was people like Dave Mirra, Jay Miron and Mat Hoffman, just all the crazy tricks that everybody loves. One of the first videos I ever got was ‘Voices’ because my Dad would just order 2 or 3 DVDs at the shop for Xmas, and for some reason he got that one. That was the first video I would watch over and over. Just the whole scene… like Josh Bedford, Joe Cox, Dan Cox and Marv… Fuck, and Tom Blyth… definitely Tom Blyth. His part is so fucking sick. Timeless… Grim spots and grim weather that reminded me of Germany. I guess before the Internet was so big, you would see photos and videos from Cali or Texas and it almost wouldn’t seem real. Just spot wise and weather wise it seemed perfect. The UK seemed more familiar because of the weather and all the brick spots…
And now? Who are your favourite riders to watch?
Ah man, it’s so difficult to define. I love watching Slayer ride, my man from Frankfurt. We’ve known each other since we were kids. He lives two hours away so we don’t chill that much but when we do it’s so good. I guess all my friends who I chill with, like Lacey, AK, Joris, Sexton, Ty, Garrett, Dennis. Anyone really, it’s just so hard to define something like that. Nathan, Dakota, Corey, all that lot. I’m just psyched on what all those guys do, and get inspired by that.
Apart from the DIG video for this interview, have you been filming for anything else?
I know the DUB video is coming out. I’ve already filmed some stuff out here and in England but I definitely want to get more. I have a camera but it’s hard getting motivated to do something if you’re not even sure your mate will film it right. I don’t have anyone that lives around who ever wants to go film or anything. I’m going to wait until spring and then start filming for that. I know we’ve got some Federal trips coming up in the spring as well. I need to stick around at home for a while and finish school and then I’m free!
How is it having a brother that rides?
It’s so good yeah. Carlo has the craziest rail rides, everything he does is on point. He’s sick. He used to be really good at soccer and played a lot. There were scouts trying to get him to play in the main league for his age. He didn’t do it and shortly after he told me he was over it. My parents were just stoked when we were stoked, they didn’t push us into anything. When kids get to a certain age the parents seem to go mental, and they think their kid is going to be the next Lukas Podolski (German soccer star) or some crazy ass footballer, so they would shout and go mad. You know, the typical football Dad… Anyway, I built up a bike for my brother and since then he’s been riding. All of the stuff he does is do or die, you have to be on point.
Is he going to be riding your signature frame? Actually, I need to ask Federal if they can just send over a few frames. One for my wall, one for my brother, and one for my friend.
You mentioned that you wanted your signature frame to be strong as hell. What other input did you have in the design?
Yeah as I said I wanted it to be strong first of all. That’s why I have gussets on both the top and downtube. Other than that I wanted a higher frame that feels steady in manuals and grinds but also allows you to spin fast. It’s just a frame but it feels like the best one I’ve ever had.
Video Vault: DIG X Bruno Hoffmann
That time everyone's favourite German delivered the goods in Malaga, Spain... - More Info
Red Bull is probably a dream hook-up for most riders. How did all that come about for you?
I guess seeing me in contests in Germany or Europe got them interested and we started talking. They weren’t stressing or anything so the whole thing came together part by part. For example, they would pay me some gas money or a flight to somewhere just to see how the whole relationship would work. Then, one day, we just made it official. It’s definitely a dream hook-up. When they put something on you always feel like they’re doing it right. Free drinks are good as well!
Is it true that some people in the BMX world have pretended to be on Red Bull while they are in clubs so they get free drinks?
Haha, I’ve heard about one guy over here in Germany who did it, so I’d say yeah. Pretty funny but kinda lame.
If you weren’t riding for a living, what do you think you would be doing for a job after you leave school?
That’s actually a pretty tough one because right now most of my friends are in exactly that position. I’m interested in a lot of stuff but it changes often. I dunno why but I´m kinda interested in politicians and history so maybe something around that topic. I seriously don’t know yet haha.
Do you think you will ever go to college or university?
Yeah, as I said I’m doing my final year now to get a qualification for university, but just to have it. I don’t really want to leave school right now and then go straight into the next one, so I’ll just see and try to chill for a bit after graduation in June.
If you could only ride 3 spots for the rest of your life, what would they be?
This is a pretty hard one again, but I guess that the simplest spots are the most fun ones if you really could only ride 3 for the rest of your life. I think I’d just go with a flat rail, a decent ledge and maybe a bank to sub.
“... there we were with no lights and my mum holding a flashlight over me while the doctor pulled out my teeth.” - Bruno Hoffmann
What’s your daily routine like these days? At home it’s pretty much the same everyday. Wake up at around 7, shower, get to school at around 8 (most of the time I’m 5 minutes late) and chill there until 12-1 o’clock. Afterwards, mostly depending on the weather I’ll either be chilling, watching programs and sleeping or I’ll be outside riding. Right now the weather is absolutely shit and the indoor place only opens once a week, so I’m not riding that much at home. At night I usually meet up with some friends to have a drink or watch some stuff online.
If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be? I would do my driving license a little bit faster so I don’t have to do it again, since after a while the lessons don’t count... dickheads.
Do you think BMX is the main reason you are so good at English? What else do you think it has taught you over the years?
Yeah I definitely think that BMX is the main reason I’m good at English although I never really felt that I had to work at it. I guess it is just the whole mix of English magazines, people, jams, videos and websites. After being on a trip for a week speaking English all the time, it actually feels weird coming home and talking German ( to my parents for example). And while I’m away always randomly hearing new words or expressions, which I remember like 2 weeks later in school and start using them. Then my teachers notice it and my marks go up, haha. Other than speaking English I’m pretty sure that whenever I go somewhere, especially on my own, I learn or discover something new about the people and the culture. I feel like it gets easier talking or dealing with people, which is pretty cool.
You seem to be able to 180 either way out of most grinds. Are there any grind to 180 combos which have proved to be too elusive?
Haha, yeah there are definitely some which I don’t understand at all. Like oppo 5050 to hard 180 or the whole ice to hard 180 thing.
You mentioned that you enjoy going to the US. Do you think you would ever make the move over there? Y
eah I really enjoy the U.S and even when I’ve been there a couple times it’s always a new experience (also because it’s the only country that deals in such a way with their tourists). Everything just seems bigger and kinda better there and I really enjoy seeing it all from the kinda touristy-side I have. But I guess that’s how I like it… moving to California for example would be fucking sick and worth it for the spots, but thinking about being 6000 miles away from home is weird and a little scary, too. PIus, without any disrespect to anyone, I often feel that the most typical Americans you see at the airport, gas station or in the streets, really prove and support the stereotypes that exist. First time I went to the states, the immigration cop (who looked like Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons) asked me the usual questions until he got out his massive stamp, smashed it onto my passport, took his sunglasses off (at night) and just said “Welcome to the real world”. That was pretty funny, also a bit scary though. Also, recently when we were out in my town there was a situation and the police took everyone’s names and stuff, and I realized that this could be a problem. Although I’m not 100% sure if they would have a “drunk in public” case on their monitors, not being able to go to America for a couple years because of something stupid on my record would suck, so I’m taking it easy. My town is shitty to go out in anyway!
Where do you stand on the Plastic peg vs. Metal peg debate?
I don’t really know to be honest. I haven’t tried the ones with the metal cone, but just from being forced to ride plegs at our indoor park I’m kinda skeptical. They just kept on breaking, and stuff like toothpicks or smiths were always scary. I definitely see the point of not breaking spots or being able to grind aluminium set-ups but at the same time I really like the sound of metal on metal. Maybe I should get some and then just bring them with me in a bag like Max (Gaertig) does. I gotta admit though, that it’s fucking sick looking at clips from like Benny L and Bengo or Corey and Nathan grinding the roughest stuff butter smooth.
I noticed that you’re a bit of a local celebrity around your hometown, like the time those 2 girls were taking pictures of you and giggling on the train. Does that ever work in your favour?
Haha, I definitely wouldn’t say I’m famous around here, but it’s just a small town. Everybody who’s in the same kinda age range knows each other either from school, sports or parties. The girls are weird here though, of course there are a couple of cool ones but most of have either been in a relationship since they were 12 (seriously) with some greasy twat who is constantly buying clothes from H&M or they are constantly on it from one Techno party to the next. Also a lot of hot birds here are pretty faithful and in all sorts of Christian churches so that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s definitely weird but as I said they’re cool ones too. I just feel like it’s too much effort really haha. Everybody who is the same kinda age knows each other either and back in the day I was always pedaling around my town and got shit from the bigger guys because I was the “kid with his sisters bike.” Pretty original, I know... It’s funny now because the same dudes, who always thought they were the next German soccer star come up to me now and ask how it’s going and where I’m off to next. You can tell most of them don’t get it and are kinda jealous of me getting out of the town or the country. It’s the same type of guys who constantly hate on Turks stealing their jobs and girls, and then leave the country once a year for a fully all-inclusive Turkish Holiday where they won’t see anything besides the airport and the hotel. Actually, I’m at a point right now where I don’t take anything the people around here say seriously. It’s like every small town; people got nothing to do but talk shit and exaggerate. I’m just looking forward to finishing school and getting out without having to worry to be back in a certain amount of time. Just freestyle a little bit and visit friends!
“I’m not gonna sit here and give thanks to God or anything like that!” - Bruno Hoffmann
Any thanks/Shout outs?
First of all I’d like to thank my parents for always being supportive, and not only with my riding, and never stressing or anything. Thanks so much! Then of course everyone at Federal (and Seventies) for sending me places, providing a dialed bike and giving me a frame! Then I’d like to thank Vans and especially Andy Z. for always hooking it up with da best shoes and taking me on trips. Everyone at Red Bull but mainly Mini and Matze for always listening and taking care of me, and also for sending shit loads of drinks for parties… Will Stroud and everyone at Cinema for keeping my wheels fresh and getting me around and Jack at DUB for sweet shirts, always entertaining graphics and sick times! Same goes for Alex Baret aka. Mayol from Greenfilms who is the sickest host and funniest guy ever. Speaking of funny I can’t forget the “media couple” from Freedombmx Markus Wilke and Martin XMX Ohliger, who are always sick to hang out with! Also shout outs to Lacey for not being a c*nt all the time haha, and also the French connection like Kevin K., Alex V., Mathias, Vince and Kang as well as Stefan Lantschner. I´d like to thank everyone that supported me and I´ve had a good time with, my homies from Siegen: Moho Mario, Wanja, Robby, Makl, Eddie and my brother Carlo. Then also WTP and the Peoples Store but especially Nöckel and Spieß for letting me crash on their sofa when I’m in cologne. Also a special thanks to Rob Harrison, you’re da man! Maybe I should also say thanks to my teachers for always being supportive, and letting me go away. Also thanks to the 385-Frankfurt-Bornheim homies such as Merlin, Tom aka. Slayer and KusKus! Shout outs to everyone that I love watching for motivating me like Benny L, Lacey, Bengo, Sean Sexton, Simone, Joris, AK, Dak, Nathan, Moho, Mario, Fabi Roethlisberger, Dennis Kicza, Tom Slayer, Chase D., Corey, Ty and Garrett (also for letting me stay), Joe Cox, Josh Bedford... fuck that list is endless. Also shout outs to all me scouse lads in Liverpool haha! Also cheers to my crew from Eiserfeld like Ameis, Miko, Enders, Hannes, Pawel und KK. Then of course DIGMAG for giving me this interview! I think that’s all even when I feel I forgot half. Thank you all. I appreciate it!
DIG Presents... Ender Ender - Episode 1 - Bruno Hoffmann
Bruno and his infamous Malaga 540 video ender - More Info
The story behind THAT Belgrade curved wallride train
With Erik Elstran and Luc Legrand
Mat Hoffman - The Dangers Of Flying On A Budget
"Ramps are not dangerous unto themselves. Confidence. Now that can be dangerous" - Mat Hoffman