Blunted Athletics - Forever Rolling
A new DVD keeping that old school feeling alive!
In the world of BMX today, there seems to be a bit of tug-of-war going on between the progressive new school and the ever grounded old school and mid-school. The battle begins at the starting point, each side of the fence believes that their grass is the greenest and bares no water for their neighbors. Here lies the problem. One cannot exist without the other. The progressive riding of the new school comes from the elders of our industry, the foundation has been laid out for us all to learn from and pay homage toward, in hopes of breaking through limitations set by those amazing riders of yesterday. Limits are meant to be broken and traditions are meant to be kept sacred. The only way we can keep our industry strong and vibrant with longevity is to support ourselves and those who do what they do best... ride BMX and have a great time doing it! If you follow this simplicity, which I truly believe we all have experienced once upon a bicycle, we will strengthen our friends and family within BMX, in turn become one.
This is what I see in a family called, Blunted Athletics. This team is made up of an ever growing group of friends, Lahsaan Kobza, Tammy McCarley, Matty Nothnagle, Aaron Maxwell, Robbie Owen, Clay Johnson and Matt Closson! Among these 7 individuals there is a large following of riders and friends that make up a collective attitude that BMX needs now more than ever! Support for one another based simply on the fact that we all ride bikes and want to have fun and continue doing so regardless of fan base, popularity and even sponsorships. I caught up with the main man Lahsaan to get an in depth voice to what BLNTD is all about, along with words from the whole team... See why these guys love what they do and how they benefit from having friends and family within BMX.
"we have had 7 different premieres around the world from Las Vegas Nevada, Riverside California, two premieres in Phoenix Arizona and even all the way to Lyon France!"
What year was Blunted Athletics first established and when did you first begin your involvement with the company, was BMX an intricate part of the company before you got on board?
My business partner Chi Hom first established BLNTD early in the year of 2005, mainly focusing on skateboarding and artwork. I first began my involvement with BLNTD starting in 2009 as the first BMX rider. Then after an amazing trip to San Francisco California with the BLNTD skate team, Chi and myself really hit it off and decided to take BLNTD further with BMX. So soon after that, I took over 50% of the company in 2011. I started out with BLNTD simply loving fashion and being into supporting brands that I believe in, Chi and I would agree on pretty much everything together, so the BMX stuff just came into play later as we noticed how much love we were getting from the BMX community.
The Blunted Athletics DVD, ‘Forever Rolling’, was just released at this years’ Nora Cup Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada! Since that time I assume you have had a chance to reflect on the video as a whole as well as get feedback from friends and those in the indusrty… Can you explain how you are feeling about the overall impact the DVD has had on yourself, and the BMX communities near you?
Looking back on the video from the beginning to the final product brings nothing but tears to my eyes, the responses we have gotten since we have had 7 different premieres around the world from Las Vegas Nevada, Riverside California, two premieres in Phoenix Arizona and even all the way to Lyon France! It's been nothing but love from our peers and people we have looked up to for years. I am so thankful for BMX and all my close friends who have helped this project turn from a dream to a reality!
What was the first inspiration to begin filming this project?
My inspirations for making this project happen was to just grab my closest friends around me, assemble some trips and just let it rip! We made multiple full team trips on such a low budget and we have memories that will last forever. That was my main goal and I can't thank my BLNTD FAM enough for making it possible.
So in the history of the company, has there ever been a video released of this magnitude that represents the brand?
Our Forever Rolling DVD was the first big production for BLNTD, there had been a few skate videos put out by Chi and the BLNTD skate team. Yet, they're nothing to the level of what we put into our first full length DVD, "Forever Rolling."
I noticed that whenever you and the crew are out riding and filming, you have an obvious choice of SD cameras, such as the Sony VX2100. Why in today’s age did you decide to keep working with the old school, were you at all concerned about the HD vs. SD scenario within the final result?
My Sony VX2100 is the camera in which I really learned how to film with and its always stuck with me, it is such an easy camera to work with and I will always love that classic VX footage. As far as the SD vs. HD scenario we actually had a few HD clips in the video so I don't mind HD at all as long as it's sized right! (laughs)
Could you list off the full set of cameras used during the filming of this project? Has the line up of equipment changed from the time you started to the last clip filmed?
I have 3 Sony VX's that I used filming for this video, two of them are 2100's and the third is a 2000 I acquired towards the end of filming. There were also multiple people within the BLNTD crew that also had SD cameras, such as Joey Calderone, he had a trusty 2100 and Robbie Owen had the every so crispy Canon GL2. Big thanks to all the other homies who lent a helping hand as well from Chadwick, Dustin Arp, Bobby Kanode and many more.
How many years have you been filming this video?
This video has been in the works for two and a half to three years! Since I moved to AZ three years ago I wanted to make a DVD so we started slow with a mini mix tape and that got everyone ready to start filming for the DVD, Forever Rolling.
During that time did you ever have the feeling that the video just wasn’t going to get finished?
Yes and no. I feel that happens with pretty much any project no matter what it is, after working on something for so long you go through slower times than you would want. Still in my head I always knew we would make it happen with the crew we had and all the support from the homies.
Most of the crew involved lives in the greater Phoenix Arizona area, yet you have a few dudes that don’t live in AZ and are a huge part of the team… What is the secret ingredient when it comes to becoming apart of the BLNTD family?
There is no secret at all... I just try to keep it as close to family as possible, almost everyone on the team I have known for most of my years riding BMX and pretty much grew up together. BLNTD is just one big family.
Being a full-time pro rider for The Shadow Conspiracy and Subrosa Brand, traveling the world to ride in contests and taking full responsibility of this video process, how did you get it all organized? If you had a chance would you do it again?
It was hard at times having other projects with Shadow and Subrosa that I was dedicated to while filming Forever Rolling, trying to organize trips and everybody's schedules and making sure I got it all done in time for the premiere. But in all honesty, I wouldn't of had it any other way, I love BMX and taking on new adventures, so it was completely worth the long and hectic road.
What does this group of friends mean to you, BLNTD has taken you guys state to state and without a doubt the good times are in high demand, what is your main motivation behind this company and creating this DVD?
This group of friends means the world to me! So to start off, myself and Aaron Maxwell have been best friends since we were ten years old, from racing BMX and traveling across the U.S. together for almost our whole lives. Tammy and I have been the best of friends since we were 16 and 17 and everyone else I have known for at least 5 years now. Everyone on the team knows each other's families and we all get together all the time for dinners, holidays and BLNTD party's as much as we can. This crew is the best team I could of put together for this video and I can't thank them enough for all the memories dedication and passion they put into our first full length project.
THANK YOU BMX
"It's all love and I'm glad the BMX brotherhood is strong all thanks to people in it for the right reasons."
How old are you and how long have you been apart of the Blunted team?
I am officially 25 years old, as of Dec 21st 2015, and I have been a part of BLNTD for 7 or so years now.
When Lahsaan first approached you about becoming a part of BLNTD, along with the idea of creating a full-length video, did you ever think that the project would amount to what it has today?
Well the idea of our first length video didn't come until about 3 years of riding and pushing the company but once the whole crew was in the Phoenix, Arizona area together it was much more possible of a goal to obtain. I love everyone in the crew like my family and couldn't be more thankful with everyone’s dedication to their video part and the DVD as a whole. It truly kept everything FUN as could be, just the way we all like it! We literally rolled forever filming for this and for myself I wouldn't change the enjoyment aspect of this culture for anything in the world!
You were one of the main videographers for this project. Amongst the rest of the team you filmed a majority of clips that brought this DVD to fruition. How do you feel about seeing your work make it’s way to DVD and not just on the web?
I am definitely proud to be apart of something in which everyone worked so hard for, it was such an organic thing that we all were just as passionate for this project as one another and BMX in general. I'm definitely hyped and greatly appreciative to Lahsaan and Sparky's for all the help with distribution and everything. I'm glad the video is being seen around the world and everyone deserves that for how much they put into their riding! Thank you guys and most importantly, thank you BMX!
As I spent more time with you and the team, I have seen some absolutely amazing bike riding… How does it feel to have the final part in this debut video?
Maaaaaannnn! Originally after there was a good amount of footage from everyone and Lahsaan and I started talking more about the structure of the video or whatever, I wanted Matt Closson's section to go last, because GOD DAMN look at his shit, straight fire! Closson went so hard for his shit and I still think he deserved last section. Lahsaan said otherwise haha. Anyway I'm stoked to say the least, I worked on my section for 3 years and definitely had the time of my life through all the ups and downs creating it.
What would you say was the most difficult aspect of filming for this video, on both sides of the camera, as a rider as well as a filmer?
As a rider, without a doubt being hurt, thankfully I didn't get seriously injured while filming for this video. Even though I have been battling my right knee since before the filming of this video began, which I actually just received some not so very good news about. As a filmer (other than not being able to film because I can't walk or skate) I'd have to say just when the tape is almost finished and you don't have any new tapes! (laughs)
Why do you feel a team like Blunted should exist, do you feel you guys have a positive impact on the BMX industry?
I do, because we represent the true love and passion for BMX. Everyone involved even if they aren't officially on the team is 100% down with BMX and the raw lifestyle we all grew up loving. Since we are still active in the scene, it's only natural to give back and positively interact with riders all the time wether its through personal sessions riding, videos we put out, or smaller events and product that is shared throughout the BMX community. It's all love and I'm glad the BMX brotherhood is strong all thanks to people in it for the right reasons.
Would you like to see BLNTD continue onto a second video? Is there any word of future video projects from you guys?
I most definitely would love to see another video! Everyone has been riding together still and low-key filming some stuff here and there cause that's just what we do. But I do personally have something brewing in this head of mine involving most of, if not everyone of the BLNTD riders. Basically, it's in the works but not going to release any more info until the concept is completely known. Just going to enjoy BMX and hopefully set up some fun lil events collaborated with good people. Other than that you should be seeing some random projects from us such as 'BLNTD FAM' and 'One Bang' videos, dropping as we continue to keep this BMX party Forever Rolling!
"I wanted to put everything I had into it and push myself to handle some stuff I wouldn't have if I knew it was going straight to the web."
How old are you, where are you from and how long have you been a part of the blunted family?
I'm 26 years young and I'm originally from San Diego, but I have been calling Las Vegas home for a quite a few years now. I met Tammy in San Diego when I was about 13 years old at the skatepark, then years later at Interbike I met Lahsaan and we were pretty much instantly homies from my initial connection with Tammy! Then it just seemed right to be a part of BLNTD.
You have lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for the duration of filming for this video. Did the distance from Arizona and the rest of the team affect your overall section?
I'm the only one on the team that doesn't live in Phoenix so I did have to put in some effort to get out there and film as much as possible. I took a lot of trips out to Arizona to stay with Lahsaan. I would say I took about 8 or 9 Greyhound trips during the filming of Forever Rolling. If you've ever ridden on a Greyhound Bus you know how eventful those rides can be. Those trips alone were a huge part of the filming process for me.
You have put out a few web edits this year, along side filming for this project. Did BLNTD take priority over everything else, footage wise?
Forever Rolling definitely took priority over filming anything else. I love getting out there in the streets and filming so it wasn't hard to continue to film web stuff, but this was my first opportunity to film for a DVD section. I wanted to put everything I had into it and push myself to handle some stuff I wouldn't have if I knew it was going straight to the web.
You work full time now, and live quite far away from Arizona and the whole team. Did you ever feel like you weren't going to get the proper filming time under your belt? How difficult was it to juggle work and filming for this video?
For the first year of filming I wasn't working full time so I was able to stay for a few weeks at a time in Arizona. Luckily my job now is really cool about me taking time off and there was no serious deadline for the video so I never really stressed the notion of not finding the time to film. There were a few things in Vegas I would have liked to film for the video just didn't have anyone to film with, so that was my only major downfall...
Nora Cup is always a prestigious party to be apart of, especially when the BMX community gathers for one night to watch their friends achieve industry greatness! That party is always accompanied by a video premiere, this year you guys had the opportunity to debut Forever Rolling. How does it feel to have that honor in your own city?
When Lahsaan told me we were premiering the video at NORA I was beyond stoked. Having the whole BMX community in my city partying together and watching the video was a night to remember. It was the perfect celebration for all the hard work the whole crew put in for the video. I can't thank Lahsaan and the guys at Ride BMX enough for making that happen.
Being involved within a crew like this, does it motivate you to continue riding BMX, do you feel like your just riding with your friends and having a great time, or more like a team with an agenda?
BLNTD is more than just a team or group of friends, it's a family. Every road trip is like a family vacation and every filming mission is like a field trip. I'm very thankful to have a group of homies like these guys. BLNTDFAM4EVER!
"It's definitely pushed me to try some of the coolest setups and shit to grind that I could find! Just to attempt to hang with these guys. I still can't even believe I have a part in a DVD."
How old are you, where are you from and how long have you been a part of the BLNTD family?
I'm 30 years young, born and raised out on the west side of Phoenix Arizona, but I just recently bought a house on the east side of town, in Chandler AZ. I've officially been part of Blunted Athletics for just over two years now. I was meeting up with the Shadow team on one of their team trips to AZ. Then, Lahsaan and yourself and I were sitting out back at a table next to the pool and he asked what my thoughts were on being a part of Blunted and boom, here we are!
As a bike rider you have gone through a lot of changes in your career, at one point almost putting down your bike for good… But fast-forward to today and you have one of the most memorable sections in the DVD! Would you say in the past few years that the BLNTD family has kept you stoked on BMX? Because you know what they say, after awhile BMX isn’t just a hobby it’s an instinct!
Yeah man, it's all been a wild ride that I wouldn't change for the world! I have definitely had my ups and my downs in the game, but bike riding has always been my reason and excuse for everything and it hopefully will be for a little while more. The blunted family was and still is such huge motivation on keeping me in there. I still think its insane that they were down to have me a part of their family. It's definitely pushed me to try some of the coolest setups and shit to grind that I could find! Just to attempt to hang with these guys. I still can't even believe I have a part in a DVD.
During this filming process you broke your wrist pretty bad during the Albuquerque trip, and your seen in the Vegas footage still wearing a cast! Did you feel that injury burdened you to the point that you didn't wrap up your section how you would have wanted?
Yeah I re-broke the scaphoid in my wrist. I probably shouldn't have been riding while the cast was still on. It took 6 months to "heal" and to this day don't have half the motion. But I definitely feel it slowed my momentum down big time during the filming of the dvd. I felt like for a while we were getting it pretty good and then i ate shit in New Mexico and again in Denver and it kinda got the best of me. Being older doesn't help with the recovery either.
You and Clay Johnson have been friends for about 14 years, you basically grew up riding together, how does it feel to be on BLNTD together after all these years and still out there riding?
Its too crazy man. But its also just natural. We still ride together all the time and have seen a lot of crazy shit together. We've been on who knows how many road trips. From all over the place in Cali to New York 3 different times and going out to New Mexico every summer when we were super young and partying with you and the boys. We've pretty much just always seen eye to eye on everything and it's one of my best friendships I have!
Within your experience of bike riding, do you feel as though what BLNTD stands for is a positive attribute to the BMX community overall?
Oh yeah for sure. We're first and most importantly about respect, for others as well as yourself. We stand for being yourself and speaking your mind. Being blunt and saying shit the way it is. And of course rollin a blunt and hitting the road with your friends. Getting out and seeing the world with your friends and cruising your bike till you can't anymore. At the end of the day, riding something new and different or being in a new city and making great memories with friends is all you can ask for.
"From week long trips to weekend trips, saving footage for something that means a lot to you and your homies...to me nothing in BMX is better than that."
How old are you, where are you from and how long have you been apart of the BLNTD family?
I am 31 years young and I was born in Downtown Phoenix, raised in West Phoenix. I've been down with BLNTD since 2012 going on 4 years.
You were born and raised in Phoenix Arizona, so you know the AZ BMX scene from it’s roots, what was the main connection that brought you to the BLNTD crew?
Real recognize real. I met Lah a couple of times before and it was always love. I knew he was apart of BLNTD but never knew he was of the main dudes behind it. So when he let it know he wanted me to be down it just felt like the right move.
It seems as though you have always gravitated towards brotherhood within BMX. Belonging to crews such as BLNTD, PEGLEG and The Destruction Krew, with these companies you have evolved your style and outlook on bike riding. What is it that kept you on this specific pathway?
It just makes sense to me, get in where you fit in… When you are with your peoples and there isn't any politics or bullshit, just riding on top of jokes and shit talking, to me that’s real! For instance, you hear about teams not all getting along or a new dude gets added that no one fucks with...with a crew that will never happen, you are boys no matter what you just happen to ride bmx.
Arizona has always had a tightly knit scene and because of the sheer size of the greater Phoenix area there have been multiple crews over the years… You started one yourself back in the day, could you explain what “The Destruction Krew” is exactly?
Haha shit, basically when I was growing up and still to this day, Butcher and Luc-E were my idols. So naturally ECD (East Coast Destruction) was my shit, everything about it! The music, 40oz, WU-TANG an of course the riding. They were one of the first “crews” in bmx that I remember and they had a brotherhood that couldn’t be doubted. So I said I'm going to start my own. I tagged DK on the head tube of my Hoffman Butcher frame and went out an did the same on the homies bikes. From there it turned into more than two letters. To get to the point, for the most part we were riding the same, listening to the same music, drinking 40's...no matter what. That stupid shit that meant the world to us.
Being involved with this Forever Rolling dvd project, what is the highlight for you personally over these past few years?
The whole thing was a highlight! I grew up watching full length videos everyday so to have a chance to film one in this age of online content felt good. From week long trips to weekend trips, saving footage for something that means a lot to you and your homies...to me, nothing in BMX is better than that.
"I love BMX! It has taken me to so many different places around the country and introduced me to new people, and most importantly, the people I look up to..."
How old are you and how long have you been riding for Blunted?
I am 20 years old and I have been riding for Blunted Athletics for about 3 years now.
Out of the seven major riders for Blunted, you are the youngest… Do you feel at a distance from your crew because of your age at all?
Not at all! I feel like everyone in the crew makes me feel welcome and keeps me in the loop in any situation. I have definitely learned a lot from these dudes.
Nowadays we know your age in BMX is only a number and kids are getting better and better everyday. You hold it down on and off your bike more than any young gun I’ve met, what is your attitude toward riding in general?
I love BMX! It has taken me to so many different places around the country and introduced me to new people, and most importantly, the people I look up to... Just go out with your friends and have fun on your bike and do the things you like to do.
Your riding has progressed greatly through the years of this project, what would you say is the highlight of your video section?
I'd say the night at that black kinked rail in Albuquerque,NM. It was the first trip I was on with the dudes, that night so much popped off, I think everyone snagged a lil sumthin!.. Grinded rails into the early morning, did some donuts and called it a night!
As a crew you guys travel a lot and live in the same town, how does it feel to belong to a brotherhood like BLNTD?
It's sweet we can all chill for at least a few days out of the week, get out and cruise the streets, get a bite to eat, ain't nobody too far. BLNTD FOREVER
"...not everything is going to just get handed to you, you gotta keep your head down and just grind for it, and to keep pushing regardless of how hard you fall in whatever it is you're trying..."
How old are you, where are you from and how long have you been a part of the BLNTD family?
I am 25, I'm from MESA, AZ and I've been riding for BLNTD for about 3-4 years now.
You and Lahsaan have been friends ever since you two both raced BMX, was there ever a time where you two didnt ride together? Was the BLNTD team a bridge into riding street again with Lahsaan and other friends?
Yeah, I'm not so good with timelines, but I believe we were about 8 or 9 years old when we first met each other racing. He grew up in Nebraska and Chula Vista California, I've been in Mesa, Arizona my whole life, so we would ride and hangout all weekend at whatever Nationals we could possibly get to, and an occasional trip here and there to ride outside of racing would happen also.. He eventually got into street riding and I broke my back and we both kinda split the racing scene and that's when I got into tattooing. He moved out here to AZ in like 2012-2013 if my memory is serving me correctly and I was just getting back into riding my bike and street again and it just took off from there. He's always been one of the main dudes to have my back and push my riding. He put me on BLNTD during filming for MAB, and once that was done Forever Rolling was something he had been talking about for a while and we just jumped at the chance to make it happen and here we are now!
You grew up in a BMX family, you and your sister both raced and even your mother has her hand in the industry. Could you explain the influence your Mother has had on your personal career as a bike rider and as a tattoo artist, as well as her impact on BMX?
Yeah, my mom is a fucking boss! I could never thank her enough for everything that she has done and sacrificed to keep me and my sister on bikes and feeling healthy. She's the best. She runs a silk screen printing business along with a full dye sublimation and cut-n-sew business making custom BMX jerseys, and printed all of the National T-Shirts for the American Bicycle Association for about 15 years I believe. She has always just showed me a gnarly work ethic, not everything is going to just get handed to you, you gotta keep your head down and just grind for it, and to keep pushing regardless how hard you fall in whatever it is youre trying, whether its riding or trying to become a tattooer. She's the tightest. LOVE YOU MOMS!!!
On the Albuquerque trip I was first exposed to your extreme talent as a tattoo artist, the whole team even got an original BLNTD x Hawkeye tattoo to honor such an amazing trip, and an amazing family! How did you react to everyone wanting your artwork permanently on their body, do you think it could have happened on any other trip than with BLNTD?
Haha I don't know about extreme talent, I appreciate that, but I've only been tattooing for less than 2 years, I still have a ways to go, and a lot to learn! Tattooing the team on our trips was always an honor and so much fun, just as every other tattoo I get to do whether it's on a friend, colleague, or someone just walking in from the street. I'm marking someone for life, it's a crazy honor and responsibility that completely gets overlooked by a lot of tattooers I think. It's a dangerous job, and that dangerous side is the side that is mostly kept out of the limelight in terms of whatever the public gets exposed to about tattooing in the mainstream. Shit, that's the dream isn't it? Travelling, tattooing, riding and having a good time?! I couldn't be happier my first trips where my dreams of tattooing, riding, travelling, and good times were with my BLNTDFAM!
Today you see more and more riders concentrating their artwork abilities into the BMX world, could you list off certain things you have helped design, and also is there anywhere we can find your work?
Yeah, I "managed" the graphic design side of my moms business for a couple years in between my tattoo apprenticeships. We designed hundreds of team jerseys mostly for the ABA at the time, some olympic jerseys, some pro supercross rider jerseys, all kinds of stuff, it's hard to remember the specifics... But as far as seeing my tattoos and paintings, Instagram is the best spot for that. I got rid of twitter, facebook, tumblr, all that shit a long time ago, I'm not a big fan of the internet, I'll probably be remaking all that stuff soon, we'll see. Unfortunately in this day and age the internet is the best way to get out there. But for now, my instagram is the most updated and best representation of what I do. Instagram @aaronmxwl
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