Re Print: Getting Creative With Cameron Wood
"People can call it what they want. We're not really skiing; we're bike riding"
29 Jan 2015
Photos, Interview & Intro by Rob Dolecki Additional Questions by Greg Ingersoll Originally printed in DIG 96 'The Creative Issue' July 2013
There aren’t many people (if any?) who can say that their first clip ever in a video was from being invited on a Props Road Fools trip. Cam can make that claim. Since that first appearance in ‘04, Cameron Wood’s name become notorious for larger-than life 360s and his own brand of creativity through subsequent Props trips, Shitluck, FBM and S&M videos. Not to mention his parts in two of the most memorable independent full-length videos of the last five years, both which showcase one of the most diverse and creative scenes ever, Salt Lake City.
It was a long time coming, but our Cameron Wood interview finally come together early in 2013. We started in the snow-covered valley of Cam’s hometown Salt Lake City and took a drive westward, where we ended in the sun-baked hills at Ryan Metro’s house in Hollywood Hills. It was quite a change in scenery, but it also helped create quite the diverse collection of shots you can see here.
Over the past few years, Cameron has been juggling the responsibilities of owning a bike shop and being the father of his cute baby girl Eleanor, expanding his woodworking hobby, as well as embarking on a new project with lifelong friend Greg Ingersoll, which mixes BMX and snow. Even with everything going on, Cam continues to fulfill his love for the art of creating, both with his feet on his pedals or his hands on a band saw, only now there may be some roasting on the ski slopes included…
RD: So, what do you want to talk about? What do you want to talk about? I don’t know. Mostly about us keeping BMX in our hands 100%, and trying to cut out all the bullshit.
R: Like what? Like when I couldn’t ride the Dew Tour dirt jumps in Salt Lake City because I didn’t qualify. I can’t ride in my own city because I didn’t qualify? It should be like, “Oh no, these guys are locals, it’s OK.”
Greg: Especially when you helped build the jumps.
R: But to an extent everything with you and your bike riding is the same way. You have your own shop and you ride for rider-owned companies… Some companies do a lot for good for us, but at the same time, “No man, this is how it’s supposed to go down. These people need to be drinking on a roll-in if they want to.” Let people really see how bike riders are.
R: When did you first start running into real riders in Salt Lake City?
C: About four years after I started. I always had to ride a mountain bike because my dad wouldn’t buy me a BMX because he thought they were stupid since they didn’t have gears. “You can’t ride those in the mountains, boy.” (Laughter) I just wanted to do tricks, cruise through the city and jump off a curb. Then I ran into people, and it was like “Whoa.” Shit got serious.
R: Who did you run into?
C: Beringer. Then Aitken and Yoda one time.
R: Where at? I was sitting in high school in class and looking out the window. I had found about Mike Aitken about six months before, who he was. I was in Health class or something, and I look out and Mike is doing a manual on a curb along the school. We had an hour left of school, and I was so mad, I knew I wasn’t going to make it out in time to go see those guys. Class got out, and I was like, “You guys never going to believe it; Aitken was outside riding our school!” We found out Beringer lived in our neighborhood.
G: Fuzz had a Mongoose trailer parked out in of Matt’s house. There was a lake jump kicker in the back of the house, and I saw Mike blast an air on the lip. We were so scared to talk to those dudes. Cam rides back there first, and says, “You guys are pros, aren’t you?”
C: I said something stupid like that; I was so nervous. Beringer gave us a preview of one of the sweetest videos of all time, “The Beginning” before it was even out.
R: What did you think of the video?We were really blown away. They were hitting stuff in our own backyard; “I know where that’s at.” We couldn’t believe it.
R: After that, how did that influence you? It was the gateway drug for sure. (Laughter) I don’t know if we were just consistent enough going over there and hanging out, but they liked us enough to keep us around. Having such cool dudes to look up to is probably what kept us going. After that we would go to contests with Matt, or go to Proving Grounds. Luckily we were able to hang out with them and progress with them.
R: What was your first clip in a video?
C: Probably Road Fools 13? Yeah. I was riding a Mongoose.
R: So your first clip in a video, real road trip, etc. was Road Fools 13? That’s crazy. How did that come about?
C: Matt Beringer, the sweetest dude. That Road Fools was cool. Van Homan, Steve Crandall, and Matt got to pick three people each to go along. Matt picked Fuzz, Elf and me. I think he just wanted to see me get fucked up. (Laughter)
R: I guess he was successful, huh?
C: Oh yeah. Don’t drink and 360 off a vert ramp. (Laughter) Especially in the dark. By the time everyone set up…
R: My flashes probably blinded you…
C: Oh, dude, completely. I remember that. I couldn’t see the landing. I only overshot it by like three feet though.
"Every piece of woodwork is completely original.That’s how I like to base my riding"
R: You broke your foot.
C: Yeah, I’m pretty sure. No one knows this, but I’m pretty sure I broke my sternum that night too. And I think I broke my knee (on that trip) trying that wall tap at the Denver park. I smashed it so hard coming back in. I had done that before, so I knew what it felt like. I was doing it with a broken knee. I had nothing else to lose at that point; might as well get one last good clip. Then I was yelling at the doctors, “When are you going to let us leave?” Fuzz was like, “Chill out Cam, you’re drunk.” (Laughter)
R: What was it like when that video came out?
C: I was like a little kid with hormones, figuring out ejaculation; I was so happy. (Laughter) It was amazing, how did I even get in a video, especially Road Fools?
R: What happened after that?
C: Traded in the ‘Goose for a PW Moto.
R: That’s when you got on FBM. What was the next video you were in?
C: Maybe a Shitluck trip in Props, or FBM’s "Half And Half". Leland and Tag took me under their wing when I got on FBM. From there it was good times with Leland and Tag dragging me around the country with no food, no money, stealing veggie oil, Bugsy always asking for cigarettes.
R: What was your first video part?
C: Either a Shitluck video, or a split part with Leland, Fisher and me, or I had the last section in "Half And Half". I don’t think a lot of kids have even seen those videos.
R: Going on all those trips with Mike Tag, how did he influence you?
C: To live life on the edge and not give a shit. Pretty much use your surroundings to the fullest, that’s what Tag taught me. If there was garbage on the road that will help you get through life, take it. If you were ever going to get in a fight, having Tag would be the best dude having your back. He was an awesome big brother; Rest In Peace.
R: How about Derrick Girard?
C: There are some interesting people in the BMX community, and he’s one of them. (Laughter) One time I stayed with Derrick in Maine. He had made his own pulley system, which was a zip line that you would just die (if it broke). (Laughter) Going up to Maine to see what it was all about was a cool side of it; just old muscle cars sitting all over the sickest woods, and him an his dad doing donuts, burning around the woods. It was like where old cars go to die and new cars get to be reborn. (Laughter) Derrick gets you in situations where you’re like, “What the fuck; how did we wind up here?” One night we were partying in Ithaca on this building, and afterwards he’s like, “Lets go climb these roofs.” We’re like four storeys up, and I look over and there are all these cops circling below. I was a little too buzzed to be hanging out up there. He’s fine, he’s like a lizard; he scurries down it.
R: What’s the craziest outside inspiration that you’ve gotten for a trick?
C: Back in the day, I watched a movie called "3 Ninjas", and they run across the water with little planks of wood- that was like fifteen, twenty years ago. I thought, how sick that would be to do that, ride across the water on a plank of wood, going fast enough. It had nothing to do with BMX.
R: Do you feel your riding had evolved in any particular direction?
C: I don’t know if it’s evolved in any particular direction, but I’ve gone in my own. I’m mostly sick of getting hurt. Instead of doing huge 360’s and gaps, I feel like I’ve pushed my limits to where I needed to. I feel like you can only do so much before you end up getting killed. If I would have done any bigger for me, it might have ended in a casket. I guess that would be a good way to go out, but I saw it as I’d like to not get hurt as much anymore and still be progressive. Go to the creative side of things and start really seeing a different way of bike riding that I’ve never even found myself. Since then, I’ve done more unique and creative stuff on my bike than I’ve ever done before. I feel like as all these younger kids get older, they’ll realize they can to this forever, and they got to change up their style. Maybe you can be 45 and jumping a thirty-stair, but for me my body just wouldn’t take it anymore. I broke my foot twice, and it feels just weaker and weaker every time I land on it. I got my other foot chopped in half by a lawnmower, and I feel like it’s really affected me. You gotta think outside the box if you want to keep bike riding.
G: People have come into your shop and ask for 26” tubes, or say you should carry fixed gear stuff.
C: F- that. Our industry is so small; I don’t really care to support anyone else. It’s about keeping it in our hands. Me opening a bike shop, I wanted to run it a certain way. I’m not being told I have to do this or have to do that. I go against the grain.
R: No pun intended? (Laughter) So why did you call it the Wood Shop?
C: Two different reasons. It’s my last name; my wife said I should sell who I am. More people would want to buy into me and support what I represent. The other reason is I’m a custom woodworker by trade, I guess. All of my grandfathers were carpenters. I love working with wood. During the winter when it’s slow for bike riding I can work on whatever. I’ll get customers in there who aren’t even coming in for bikes, and they end up having me make shit. That’s money I would have never even come across if I called it something else.
R: It’s a good thing you didn’t call it the Wood Shed; there’s a porn shop called that. (Laughter) It has a hand-written sign, and it’s in one of the grimiest parts of Philly.
C: Actually I’m going to open up one called the Wood Shed, but it’s going to be at our skatepark Greg and I are going to start at my uncle’s skating rink.
R: They might have the name trademarked. (Laughter) How did you get into woodworking?
C: I always wanted to be a painter, and as time went I realized that painting wasn’t an option. You have to have a specific eye for it. I started buying crappy wood-burning pens and started doing stupid little drawings. I started painting on wood. I realized it was cool to wood-burning instead of painting. One thing led to another; it came naturally. I like taking my hands and creating something that is cool to look at or functional. I’m all about being one with nature, and figuring out where you belong in this world. It’s a natural piece of earth. Every single piece is completely original. That’s how I like to base my riding; be as original as possible. Take something from people, but don’t take it and say that it’s yours.
R: Where do your ideas for woodworking come from?
C: Mostly acid, mushrooms… just kidding. Every once in a while I’ll see something cool, and it will trigger ideas. Some of the creativity is from stuff already out there, with my own twist on it. A lot of ideas come from BMX.
R: You used The DIG logo around your shop.
C: It’s one of my favorites. People that are really into BMX understand what it’s about. Four hands locking; what’s cooler than that? There are some bike riders that just ride and that’s all they’ll do. Then there are other bike riders who will push the envelope and create and do new tricks, and then the type of bike riders who will create the companies and push BMX in a way that it’s never been pushed before.
R: You have some wood projects lined up?
C: It has been real awesome, having BMX-related jobs has been money I’m able to make outside of riding my bike. Right now I’m doing all the Red Bull Dreamline invite boxes, which is really cool. They’ll tell me they want it a certain way, and I’ll add my own personal touch to it. I like to take it and make it my own. Jaybird Headphones is a local company, and are having me make them a conference room table. Bone Deth got in touch with me, and I may be making some wood trophies for an event they are doing. Hopefully more doors will open on the BMX side. I’m honored to have companies hire me to make such cool things. It’s really cool I can add to BMX, and show my other skills.
R: How did you first get in to ski biking?
R: Do you think he’s the first?
C: Not the first, but the best.
G: I saw a ski bike in an antique store in Park City. It had to be from the 1920’s. It was an old bike, like a ten-speed style, and it had wooden skis on it. We should go buy that fucker.
C: As far as tricks go, nobody’s doing it right now, I don’t think. It’s BMXS; BMX-Snow. Anything’s possible.
R: You’re going to make a video?
C: Yeah, we’ve been collecting evidence for five months.
R: Evidence. (Laughter) How is riding similar or different?
C: I guess the difference is you steer with your back end; you slash back and forth. It’s actually called skidding. That’s the biggest difference. And you need a mountain to propel you. When you are building trail in the woods you are stacking for days. What’s so cool about BMXS is it’s already there. You go mookin’ through trees, there’s rollers and berms everywhere. Almost hitting a tree because you’re laughing so much. I’d be having such a good time. I can just hear everyone laughing as we’re jamming through the woods. Then you get on a lift and do it all again. Up in the mountains all the time, it’s one of the best things about it. Riding natural trails. It’s going to be the newest craze for sure. The stuff I’ve been thinking about just blows my mind. What people will be doing in five years, it’s crazy.
R: You mentioned that you look at landscapes differently with snow.
C: Yeah, Out in Utah it’s cool because there are a lot of hills.
G: We’ve been talking about this a lot when we’ve been driving around looking for spots. When you are younger and look around a city and you find a bunch of things to do. Then when you go back to a spot five years later and there’s twenty more things that you can do there. We can’t see what’s around us yet, but it’s there. Explain the name BMXS.
C: People can call it what they want. We’re not really skiing; we’re bike riding. Keeping the same name and adding an “S”, for snow. We need to stick to our roots and keep it BMX. With BMXS you can ride your bike on anything you possibly can. Our company name, Outlaw Union- we decided that it would be the perfect name. We’re not wanted; we always get kicked out of spots. We go up on the mountain and people look at you like an outcast. Most of them are stoked, but they’re just looking at you like you are crazy. We go our own path; we don’t really take shit from people. We build spots; with that you’re an outlaw. The second part of the name- we’re going to have to join a union to get this going; not every resort is going start allowing it. Eventually it’s going to be so big they are going to have to accept us, like snowboarding. You gotta stick together. It’s such a powerful two-combination word. It’s gong to be a lot of bullshit we have to go up against, but eventually it will be accepted. I think it’s a good way to see BMX in a different light. With BMXS it’s a whole new industry, starting fresh. That’s the direction I want to see it go. I think one of the coolest things is that it will put more money in BMX companies. It can bring people into it that never did it before.
G: What do you need to ride BMXS?
C: What’s cool about it is you can ride the bike you are already riding. You take off your wheels, sprocket, chain and brakes. These mounts that we designed hook up to skis. It’s a simple setup that is just a mount and the ski that will fit any BMX bike, or even cruisers and mountain bikes. They’re going to be for sale at The Wood Shop this winter, and hopefully the Outlawunion.com site will be going then so it can be ordered direct. We got good companies like Animal and The Building Distribution to help us distribute them. We’re going try and get them in shops in like Canada and Oregon.
G: Where do you see BMXS and Outlaw Union in five years?
C: The riding level is going to be insane.
"PEOPLE CAN CALL IT WHAT THEY WANT. WE’RE NOT REALLY SKIING; WE’RE BIKE RIDING"
R: What’s the story with Salt Lake City, and all the good videos coming out of there?
C: I don’t know. We just try to be original from one another, walk a different path. It doesn’t make sense; we’re just a scene like anywhere else. It ended up being cool shit.
R: How was it having parts in “That’s It!” and “Killjoy”?
C: Those were the best times ever. The thing is when filming for “That’s it!” I would be roasting trees before everything and I never believed in myself. Elf would be like, “You got that.” I’d be like, “Really?” Elf is the reason I did anything in “That’s It!” He just wanted to see me go for it. (Laughter)
R: What’s the difference for you when putting together a part for a local video with your friends, and a part for a company you ride for?
C: Black and white, I guess. I don’t know why. When we make a video in Utah, we like to bring all this creativity to BMX or life, or style. It’s like hidden magic with everyone, I don’t know. It’s just fun, man. Everybody has their crew, and everyone has fun together. I think we just have a big crew, where a lot of people are willing to want to put effort into making funny shit. What was the question?
R: The differences.
C: There aren’t a lot of differences. I think when doing a team video it feels more like a bunch of rad dudes that you look up to, and you want to put out a rad film with them. At home, those guys feel like family, because I see them so much. It’s two different feelings.
R: How about filmer-wise, since you’re dealing with Elf and Jordan at home?
C: Nowadays, if you are going to put it on the line, you just want to get someone who is going to capture it properly. I never feel like I’m rolling the dice with Jordan or Elf; I know they are always going to get a cool shot. I’m really picky with who I work with. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with anyone else. Personality comes into it; someone knows me well. Some people push me more.
R: Do Elf’s pranks help motivate you more to go do a 3 off the side of a mountain?
C: (Laughter) No, Elf’s pranks get us all. I know better now, when my bag is heavy, but he’ll always put rocks in your bag when you’re going up a steep hill. Elf’s pranks could go on for two years, and you don’t even know. He’s a shit-bag. And if you prank him, he’ll prank you twice as hard back. That’s what sucks. You better get a prank on him and he better not know it’s you, or he’ll stick a hot dog in your frame. He’s done that to people. It traveled from like Philly airport to Salt Lake, to Baltimore, back to where Magilla lives, then it got mailed back to Elf, then Elf gave it to me. It looked like a Slim Jim by the time I threw it away.
G: Your dad was a part of crazy war and it fucked him up pretty good.
C: I commend him for it every day. It’s gnarly. People with loved ones who had to go off to fight, they come back and their brain is spaghetti. My dad is still recovering from it. Just him getting that messed up messed me up. One time I went home and knocked over a table in the night and my dad jumped up and thought he was getting shot at and blown up. When he was over there he was under attack and a tent fell on him and took him out. Since then, he’s come back and had a few hip replacements, arm surgery, back surgery. Shit is real, and crazy. It’s pretty nuts.
G: This is a completely different question. (Laughter) You’ve been riding for your whole life pretty much. You’re super motivated and always wanting to ride all the time. What keeps you motivated?
C: I think it’s mostly I just want to put out stuff that people haven’t seen. When I go out I try to ride the most unique line I can find that no one else is going to see. Just going out there and doing what we do is a really big part. That’s the role in society I want to play, is this bike rider that makes someone smile, or “Damn, that kid jumped over that trash can” while they are sitting in traffic. I’m a bike rider, and that alone helps me push the envelope and fulfill my place on Earth. Having all the friends that I have too, that are going to stick around.
“He sees things very differently, and what makes sense to him, leaves most people scratching their head.” - Joe Rich
A four day escape from CA to AZ via the magic of minimum wage