If you ever happened to find yourself at SSP (A breeding ground for loose cannons, hotbed of delinquent behaviour, and all around dope prefab park) you might happen to notice a shirtless man-child rolling through the gate. He might be carrying an ice coffee, but a couple beers would be more likely. Rolling around warming up he’ll pop a couple hop 3’s so high you hear yourself mumbling “freak.” He’ll pull out a pack, light a red, and be cruising around the park, listening to Taylor Swift or Iron Maiden. One second he’s lacing one of the most technical lines you’ll see all day and the next he could be blasting a toboggan over the three foot spine so high it shouldn’t be allowed. Either way, he’s stoked on a level usually reserved for professional wrestlers. You just met Brett Silva, Brother. Zack Cooke
Photos by Walter Pieringer.
Words by Walter Pieringer, Chris Zepp and friends.
Walter Pieringer: Alright Brett let’s start with the basics: How old are you and where are you from?
Brett Silva: I’m 20 and I’m from Sandwich, Massachusetts, which is on Cape Cod.
WP: It’s actually called Sandwich?
Chris Zepp: The cop cars say “Sandwich Police” on them. They’re the sandwich police.
WP: That’s real? [More laughter]
BS: Why you guys doggin’ on my home town?
WP: What’s Cape Cod like?
BS: It’s basically an island, but it’s a man-made island. It’s surrounded by beaches, so it’s a lot of sand, a lot of wind, shitty winters for sure. It gets really cold, snowing; I think there’s like four feet of snow on the ground right now. It’s not that cool, but it’s cool. I guess. It was a good place to grow up, but not a whole ton to offer kinda.
WP: What’s the riding scene like there?
BS: Very small.
WP: Are there spots on Cape Cod?
BS: There’s a good amount of spots, and there are pro skaters who have clips on spots there, so people have skated it a lot more than have ridden bikes there. We rode SSP, Sandwich Skatepark, and it’s a prefab skatepark I grew up riding forever. It’s like the worst best park ever; like some things there just didn’t make sense. Everything was small and weird, but we fuckin partied. We’ve brought like huge party speakers and microphones there and tried to have our own concerts. Everyone would get an extension cord from their house, and we’d have like eight so it’d be 800 feet, and we’d bring it all the way to the gas station that was like through the woods, it was really fun. We Quikreted a bunch of stuff, and my dad welded up rails. It was really fun and jibby but also sketchy, so you definitely had to know how to ride your bike if you were gonna hit certain setups.
WP: Who’d you ride with?
BS: When I was younger it was only Zack Cooke, then it was CB Coombs and Josh Perry. I started meeting these dudes kinda in Cape Cod, and I’d travel off Cape to go to Rye Airfield or Skater’s Edge, and I’d meet people there like Chris Childs. Then when I got a little older and started going to Boston I’d ride with the AOTC guys, like CB and Zepp and a bunch of people. Then they kinda went their separate ways after college, and I’d still go to Boston and ride with the 90East guys a lot. Lino asked me to be a part of 90East, and we just went out and rode and filmed all the time and it was sick.
CZ: I think that was big for when we left; had the 90East thing not been there, it would have slowed your development and ability to get out of Cape Cod. Me and CB left college, it was at the same time as the whole Boston scene collapsed, and there was just no one riding there except the 90East guys and Brett. I was so happy when 90East pulled you in, because it meant you were gonna keep riding with them and keep filming and putting out stuff.
BS: Yeah, that was a start to a new time of wanting to film, wanting to go ride. It was cool.
WP: You grew up racing right?
BS: I started racing when I was four, and I raced on and off until I was probably eight. My dad got me into it; he raced from when he was probably 12 to 19, he did the Grands and all that stuff. So I was racing when I was young, and it didn’t really hit me how much fun it was until I was probably eight or nine. It definitely taught me the ropes of learning how to ride a bike fast and good. I always liked it, but it kinda turned into I liked the jumps more, so around when I was 13 I gave it up and just started riding skateparks and making dirt jumps and stuff like that, because I wasn’t as much into competitive racing. But racing was tight for sure.
WP: The first time I met you, everyone was riding this little flat ledge loading dock spot, and everyone’s grinding it and nose manualing it and whatever, and you were jumping over the whole thing, like jumping over the whole spot [laughter]. I had just met you, but right away I was like “I wanna shoot photos with this guy” and thought it was awesome you were looking at the spot so differently than everyone else. Do you think your racing background informed that? What do you think makes you want to come to the loading dock spot and jump over it instead of grind it?
BS: It’s kinda like racing, I feel more comfortable pedaling fast and doing a big bunnyhop than I would hangering it like everybody else is doing; I just like doing big bunnyhops. It feels really good to do a bunnyhop 360 and go as high as I can.
CZ: I’ve never seen anyone do a hop three going faster than Brett in my whole life. He’ll pedal as fast as he can down a hill and then do a hop three and travel what seems like 50 feet. It’s a sight if you’ve never seen it.
I asked my dad if he could weld it, and he did a pretty good job
but it was these fuckin huge thick welds.
WP: So we’re almost done shooting for your interview, and even though you have four pegs you don’t have a single grinding photo, yet. Why don’t we have any grinding photos, only you jumping over shit?
BS: I guess I… uh leave the hardest ones for last? [Laughter] Grinding is hard, rail rides are hard. That shit’s crazy to me. I’d feel more comfortable doing a rail hop or a trick down a stair set than I would hitting a rail down stairs.
CZ: I think it’s Cape Cod terrain too, the environment there. I’ve spent a lot of time on Cape Cod with Brett, and it’s not a handrail place. I can only think of two or three handrails off the top of my head, and they weren’t the kind of thing you’d session.
BS: My favorite rail on Cape Cod was rock pebble run up to rock pebble landing [laughter].
CZ: It’s gnarly.
BS: It was a good rail though, it was like the
WP: What did you do for work back in Cape Cod?
BS: Framed houses.
WP: That sounds brutal.
BS: Yeah, it was.
WP: You do that through the winters too?
BS: Yeah. I remember it being like -7 degrees (-22 ºC), and when we’d start working I’d have two pairs of gloves on, and we’d keep our car on so we could have extra gloves on the heater. We passed around the blowtorch a lot, because when you start using your gloves and stuff they get covered in snow, or they get wet if it’s raining, they start to harden, and your fingers get cold so we’d use the blowtorch real quick to warm up our fingers. It wasn’t very fun.
WP: It makes so much sense now why when it’s 30 (-1 ºC) here you’re out riding and not even fazed by it.
BS: Yeah, 30 is nice, if there’s sun out and it’s 30 on the Cape in the winter it’s like the best day.
WP: That’s crazy. You rode for Eastern back in the day huh?
BS: Yeah I did, I rode for them for like three years. I stopped riding for them, and they went under soon after.
WP: They couldn’t hack it without you dude, you were holding it together.
CZ: His life was in danger riding Eastern stuff.
WP: Did you have a Grim Reaper or what?
BS: I actually rode the strongest frame, but I definitely broke three frames. There was one, I rode it for a little while and I snapped it, the top tube and head tube were separated almost, and I was supposed to ride a Rye jam the next day or something, so I asked my dad if he could weld it, and he did a pretty good job but it was these fuckin huge thick welds.
WP: So you rode the frame your dad welded in the Rye Jam, and it was fine?
WP: Did you ride it after that?
BS: Yeah, for like a month.
WP: That’s awesome.
BS: The Eastern dudes were cool though, Josh Perry, since I knew him for a while, he actually got me on the team, I was super psyched. And I was young, like 14. But then when I got older and bigger it got real bad, and I was breaking forks and hubs and smashing rims, like seriously just smashing them.
CZ: I’m remembering all the times I saw Brett just destroy Eastern parts.
WP: Where are you living these days?
BS: Austin, Texas.
WP: What besides the obvious warmer winter situation made you make the move to Austin?
BS: I dunno, kind of bored of my town, and I didn’t like living with my parents. My friend Weston told me he was moving down here and was looking for a roommate, and I was like that’s a really good idea and told my mom and she was like yeah you should get out [laughter]. I was like alright [laughter]. So I just kinda did it; I was nervous, but it was sick. I like living here. It’s warm, everyone’s nice; it’s a down to earth city. There’s a lot of spots, there’s a lot of good food, there’s BlazerTag.
CZ: What’s BlazerTag?
BS: It’s just a big big laser tag place… it’s called BlazerTag. It’s got walls, you wear a vest and you have to shoot people. First time I went it was me, Charlie, Seeley, and a bunch of other people, it was a good ass time.
I kinda wish I had a car and I kinda wish I was still framing, because I know how to do it and it pays a lot better, but it’s cool to wake up here and be able to ride my bike down the street wherever I want to go, hit new spots every day, see new people every day. Somebody different is here all the time, like Zepp’s here right now, then in a week Mayo’s gonna be here, then in another week my friend Zack’s gonna be here. So it’s cool everybody’s coming and going. I don’t think as many people wanted to go to Cape.
WP: How long have you been in Austin?
BS: Since September 13, so like six
WP: What do you do for work here?
BS: Currently out of work. Starting at a hotel soon doing valet, but I was working at Joe’s Crab Shack, and then before that I was working… I don’t even remember. I’ve had four jobs here [laughter]. I came here and I got Elizabeth Street Cafe, and then I bounced out after a day, I was like “I don’t wanna do that.” I had some money saved up so I was like “I don’t even wanna work yet” so I took a few more weeks off, and then I started framing with Weston, and the boss was such a douche, like he was the worst guy I ever worked for. So we did that for a while, I’d say a little more than a month, and we ended up just being like fuck this guy let’s quit when we went home for Christmas vacation. So then we both got jobs moving furniture at the capital building, and we only did that for one day and we got these sweet ID tags, and I was so psyched that I worked there for one day just to get that thing. Then I went and got a job at Joe’s Crab Shack, and I bailed in a month [laughter].
CZ: What do you think about the difference between BMX now with young kids and social media and Instagram and all that stuff versus where it was? I know you’re only 20 but you’ve been riding since you were so young, so you’ve kinda watched it change from before the Come Up and before the Internet to now where it is. Are you happy about it, or you think it’s too much?
BS: I think a lot of it is too much for some kids; some kids take it too far and are super serious about like what Rodeo Peanut would say or something like that. But if you see Rodeo Peanut as a joke it’s different. The internet’s cool; I love having Instagram and an iPhone, I get hyped to just go set up my iPhone and dork around and watch what I filmed after. I like using social media, but I don’t like that people care too much about what other riders are doing. Like if someone wants to land into grass or if someone wants to do a correction hop in their video, I don’t think all the little kids have to be like “Rodeo Peanut!” But it does push people kinda to not ever want to do a correction hop or something, kids want to be dialed.
WP: I see you’re a drawer, what’s the story with that?
BS: I like to draw; sometimes I really like to draw. It’s only sometimes though.
WP: What determines if you’re in a drawing mood?
BS: If I’m bored, if it’s raining. But I really like pottery; I did two years of pottery in school. Made a lot stuff like bowls, making bowls is fun. I took an advanced pottery class, there were only like five kids, it was sweet. I did get caught making something I shouldn’t have been making once.
WP: What’d they do to you?
BS: He told me to break it. It got all the way in the kiln, it was about to be done. I’d been working on this thing for weeks, he thought it was a vase. The thing was awesome, I put it in there, and the light like reflected and he saw the down stem and was like “What’s that in there?” I was like ah fuck, I dunno… he was like “You’re trying to make a piece, break that!” But it was so nice, I probably would have still had it.
WP: You’ve mentioned your dad a few times now, seems like he was really supportive of your riding growing up.
BS: Oh yeah. My dad was really supportive of me riding. He works construction, and I used to be like “Dad can you make me some dirt jumps?” and he’d be like “Yeah we’ll go to the pit” and he would seriously make the biggest dirt jumps with his loader, and I was always like “Just make it a tabletop though in case I come up short!” So we’d have these 30 foot tabletops and I would just pedal as fast as I could and hit them.
WP: That’s badass.
CZ: Your dad is just like a big kid, like an adult child with more expensive toys, he’s awesome.
BS: We’re like the same person pretty much.
Shoot2Kill Chris: How often do you talk to your mom and dad?
BS: A lot; I talked to both of them today. Today my dad was like “You know you’re gonna get that valet job, don’t be stealing anything out of nobody’s car” and I’m like “I’m not gonna do that” and he’s like “You’ll get in trouble” and I’m like “I know” and he’s like “Unless it’s a kilo of coke, you’ll get like 10 Gs for that.” [Laughter]
My mom’s super supportive and cool too. She really helped me come out to Austin; she made sure I was all set when I was moving, she actually flew out with me.
That’s awesome. Anybody you’d like to thank?
BS: My mother, my father, Paul Robinson and Dave Patterson at We the People, Mike Brennan at Merritt, Lino from 90East, Tony Long from Tables and Fables, Zack Cooke for being my brother, CB Coombs, Chris Zepp, Josh Perry for getting me on Eastern, thanks to Tori for dealing with my stinky ass….
I wanna thank everybody, can I just say thank you everybody?
Rest in peace Kitty Mang.