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1 Feb 2023

etnies 'Grounded' Memories

"I'd left the tape sitting on a ledge; it’s going to be fucked." - Stew Johnson


Intro by Rob Dolecki | Photos by Sandy Carson | Article originally published in DIG 'Special Edition' #99.7 September 2017

When etnies first BMX full-length video 'Forward' was released in 2002 it really solidified etnies as a company in BMX that was here to stay. The team was insanely stacked, with some of the all-time greats like Taj Mihelich, Dave Freimuth, Joe Rich, Sandy Carson, Mike Escamilla, and Ruben Alcantara, to name a few. Thanks in part to the initial impact and lasting influence 'Forward' had on BMX, pretty much everyone in that video had become legendary. Five years later with the release of 'Grounded', the team had evolved with Taj, Joe, Sandy and Ruben continuing to fire out strong sections, along with newcomers like Morgan Wade, Brian Kachinsky and Aaron Ross launching another benchmark of riding progression and first-rate video production.

Both videos are timeless, and groundbreaking for the time and era. 'Forward' and 'Grounded' gained etnies a long-lasting reputation for producing amazing videos, both from a riding and production standpoint. Thanks in part to all the riders, filmers and editors, the legacy as a brand and team is forever ingrained in BMX. - RD

Grounded's co-filmer Stew Johnson shares some of his memories below:

See Part 1 of this article HERE.

Young guns:

Getting the opportunity to film for Grounded was crazy. It was intimidating, because Dave Parrick is a dude I look up to; one of my favorite filmers/ editors. It was arguably one of the biggest videos in BMX, especially with that team at the time being so epic. I enjoy working with guys who are really excited about a project. Going for something that is your first big project is a really motivating factor. When I talked to Povah about planning filming trips, there were a lot of young guys on the flow team. We extended the opportunity to anyone, whether they were on the flow team or Pro. If someone was willing to put in the hard work, they would be rewarded with a section. I already had a close relationship with Aaron Ross and Brian Kachinsky form doing Props projects. Those guys jumped at the chance to go on any trip they could for the video. Some of the older guys had obligations with other sponsors and contests, the younger guys were really gung-ho, and going out there and busting their asses. Aaron had that part in Empire Chill Bro and gotten a lot of people’s attention, and Brian doesn’t half-ass anything. For those guys, it earned themselves a spot on the Pro team; it was huge for them.

Aaron Ross:

Aaron is just a fun dude to be around. He had done a little bit of traveling, but we did some really big fun trips, like to Germany. He’s just always excited to be on the road and experience new places. He had a great outlook on it. There were a few times him and Danny Hickerson wanted to kill each other. Every time we’d get back to the van, Danny would put his bike down, not put it away and just hop in the van. After a while Aaron wanted to strangle him. They were spending so much time together, living in the same town and going on trips together. But they were still good friends.

Etnies grouned by sandy carson contact bw crop

"Flow or Pro, if someone was willing to put in the hard work, they would be rewarded with a section."

– Stew Johnson

Taj Mihelich:

I filmed all of Taj’s section. For me, with Taj being my favorite rider of all time, it was an honor. Taj’s riding was starting to change, and it was more technical than burly, compared to his older stuff. It was really fun to film, because he would try and think of something different or funny on the spot. It wasn’t very stressful; it was fun watching him expand his riding technically, and I lived down the street from him.

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Wet Tapes:

I remember I was filming with Morgan Wade in Tyler, Texas, and he did some really crazy stuff, and at the end of the day he was messing around at a spot. I put in a fresh tape and was shooting, and we were there for another like twenty minutes. We went back to his house, and it rained like crazy that night. The next morning, I realized I was missing a tape. I couldn’t figure out where it was. And then I realized it was at that spot; I was sweating like crazy. I'd left the tape sitting on a ledge; it’s going to be fucked. We drove back, and it was just sitting there, and it got totally drenched, even though it was in the case. I didn’t even tell him what I left; I just told him I left something. I didn’t want to give him a false alarm that I ruined like five of his craziest clips. I let the tape dry out for a week and when I played it and it worked fine... luckily.


I filmed a lot of Danny Hickerson’s clips. He’s so casual about doing the gnarliest, most technical stuff. You never know how far ahead of the curve someone is until years later. Five years later and I still didn’t see anyone else do this, this or that. We’d go to a spot and he never knew if what he was doing was any good. He’d do it perfect, of course. We had filmed so much stuff; he had enough for a whole other part in the bonus section. I remember this famous kinked rail in Austin - the top part was broken really badly, and not safe. He wanted to grind up it, and I don’t remember doing up kinked rails at that time. It took him like twenty tries. I was pretty terrified filming that clip, hoping the rail doesn’t break and he gets impaled.

Filming with Joe Rich:

I went on a concrete trip with Joe and Ruben to Colorado; it was a fun trip. The fact that Joe didn’t get to have anything for Forward because he was injured (for basically the entire filming period); it was cool (to see him healthy filming for Grounded). Watching Joe blast the shit out of stuff never gets old. – Stew Johnson

The etnies Grounded soundtrack.

Intro: Sayvinyl
Aaron Ross: Sayvinyl - Standing In The Way Of Control
Joe Rich/Garrett Byrnes: Tia Carrera - A Really Cool Jam
Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla/John Heaton/Hannu Cools: 22 Pistepirkko - Just A Little Bit More
Adam Baker: Jape - Floating
Sergio Layos: Mogwai - Friend Of The Night
Brian Kachinsky: Sayvinyl
Interlude: Sayvinyl
Danny Hickerson: American Analog Set - Fool Around
Josh Stricker: The Electric Prunes - Sold To The Highest Bidder
Sandy Carson: Yummy Fur - Department
Taj Mihelich: The Evens - Blessed Not Lucky
Brett Walker/Kurtis Elwell: The Black Keys - Thick Freakness
Jamie Bestwick: Lebanon - In The Ether
Morgan Wade: Sayvinyl
Ruben Alcantara: (Intro) Sayvinyl; Comets On Fire - Sour Smoke
Credits: Iglomat - Dial Wookie
Crash Credits: Sayvinyl
Bonus Justin Inman/John Heaton/Dave Fiemuth Hannu Cools: Sayvinyl - Damn Well
Aaron Behnke/Dustin Guenther/Tony Mortenson: 4 Sores & 7 Bears Ago Pt 2
Tony Hamlin/Dane Wild/Joey Cobbs/Mike Tag: Sayvinyl - Settling
Hey Ladies: Custom Floor - Slow Wide
Poolside In Maliibu: Sayvinyl - Thats Entertainment
Bestwick Beating The Odds: REBS - New Beat Yeah
Rubens Nightmare: REBS - Mad
Bangers & Mash: Iglomat - Dial Wookie

Compiled by 23mag


Ruben Alcantara - Etnies Grounded - DIG BMX Memory Stick

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