Classics: The Steven Hamilton Interview

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Ride Classics: The Steven Hamilton Interview

Words and Photos by Sandy Carson

Some people know what the hell they want, what they are capable of, and are not afraid to be who they are in life. Steven Hamilton is one of these people, and a right character into the bargain. He is without a doubt, one of the last original dudes out there on a bike. The elusive Hamilton has always managed to come up with banger after banger of video parts, then disappear into oblivion till the next one. We kicked around the idea in the Fall about him coming down to shoot some photos and make something of whatever came out of it, and before I knew it, he bought a ticket at short notice right before Christmas.

We only had two weeks to batter something out here, not long at all, so I figured we’d make the best of it. It’s pretty interesting spending all day every day with one of your buddies, like he’s your girlfriend and you are shacked down for a two week stint. I actually felt like Steven’s dad sometimes and not his girlfriend. LOL Steven! I’d talk shit on him for hogging the bathroom, and shake my head at him for sleeping till five in the afternoon every day on my couch (when he would actually made it home and not sleep outside that is!). I’ll give to him though for coming across in his own time. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think we were going to pull it off, but he fired it out – even if it was into the wee hours before he got a plane back to Ohio for Christmas.

Who put that homeless person’s house is in front of my curved wallride brosef?

RIDE: What has Steven Hamilton been up to in his hibernation from the paparazzi?
STEVEN: I’ve basically been bouncing around a lot, bouncing off the walls a little bit around the US and into Canada sometimes. I’ve been on the move a lot, riding a lot, snowboarding, doing whatever and being a bit of a menace. My buddy Ted and I took a super chilled out five-month trip across the country, a much needed escape for me from the vampires and frat boys that were sucking my soul dry in my old living situation. So I left. I was saved, and slowly my soul returned to me. I mostly spent the trip shooting video with my Sony TRV900 camera. We rode some killer spots, skied some beautiful mountains, skated some gnarly skateparks, rode pools, camped out on beaches, built fires, slept in bowls, lived the dream, Brokeback style. It was beautiful out there. I have gotten much better at skateboarding. I can now skate full-pipes pretty easily and I love doing it. I went through a phase where I was losing all sorts of things all the time like my credit cards and my driver’s license. I would misplace my camera lens on a regular basis – it was funny. I was just a mess. I don’t know what my deal was. I haven’t gotten any better at snowboarding really. I think I was already pretty good, although last year was my best year to date. I remember we found this spot in the back country with three tabletops in a row, perfect natural ones, and I did a 360 on the last one on my first time through. I over-cleared the shit out of it and landed on my back at the bottom of the landing, but it was deep powder so it didn’t hurt at all. It was awesome!

Why did you decide to stay with Federal and not go with United?
Well, I already rode for the Feds, and there was no reason to leave.

How is it going with Federal since the team went different ways?
I haven’t met them yet. Except the American dudes – Jared and Bruce, they are cool. But I haven’t met the other dudes, I’m not too concerned, as I’m sure they are up to par with me. It’s not like this is a team sport anyways, but making an ad or video is a team effort, and in that respect I will miss Peter, Sandy and the old Federal team / photographers.

Why did you get all psychedelic all of a sudden?
I’ve always been, for it’s in my blood! My mom travelled with the circus and took acid, so I grew up with her psychedelic paintings and decorations. Then I was in middle school and I had a box full of Grateful Dead tapes, bootlegs and everything. I would listen to them and make drip-candle sculptures in my room. I loved it. Then, in college, I went off the deep end and now I’m totally lost.

You have had a few groundbreaking video parts and became a household name in street riding with innovative riding. What do you see yourself doing for any future video parts, since a lot of people no doubt expect a lot of you?
I’d like to work with film and bust some really big shit. I need to find the right set-ups. Well, I’ve found some, but need to find more. I need to get a really strong bike as well. I know of this reservoir that I think I can jump into, it’s really big and it’s totally suicidal. If I ever want to do it I need to be certain that my bike won’t break. Other than that I’m just going to keep trying to get better until I’m the best the world has ever seen! All lies aside, I don’t want to tell you what I am going to do because it might ruin it for you. You are who I do it for, you and me, imagine me and you, riding, and I tell you that I’m about to 360 tailtap, and then I do it. I think sometimes it’s better just to do it. I had a skate poster that read ‘don’t talk about it, be about it’, that hung above my head in high school. Another favourite good saying is, ‘there’s nothing to it but to do it.’ Very true, indeed.

Do you feel a lot of pressure to produce another banger of a video part?
No, I don’t feel pressure to do another video part of that sort. I will be producing more video parts, I still like video parts, but I’m not trying to recapture what I’ve already captured. I feel like all of my past video parts have succeeded in capturing that specific energy of mine at that time, so now I find a new energy and decide how I want to capture it, and who I want to share it with…

Do you feel burnt out?
Yeah, I feel burnt out sometimes – like on a regular basis actually. It’s part of my lifestyle. I light myself on fire and burn out when there’s no more fuel to feed the fire. It’s better than fading to black. Every night – white, black, white, black, white, black. I burn out then rejuvenate to my true estate, my truest state, burn it down and do it again.

Which cartoon character do you relate to?
I’ve been told maybe Eddie Munster or Brad Pitt! I don’t know, I like Curious George, he’s funny, and cute!

I heard you got pretty beat up not so long ago. Would you like to talk about it and what injuries you received?
Yeah, I got my ass kicked. Basically, I never thought it would happen to me. This dude punched me at a party. He broke bones in my face with one punch. It totally sucked. It was a terrible frat party. I probably shouldn’t have been there. I remember I was trying to hook up with this chick and this asshole dude pushed me for no reason. I pushed him back because I thought I was invincible. Then when I was peeing, and thought it was over, I walked near him and he punched me out of nowhere. He jumped in his car and then took off. I don’t like to talk about it really, but it feels therapeutic to write about it. Thanks.

You’ve been working on a video of your own for the last couple of years right? Is it BMX related or not?
Yeah. Totally. I’m trying to make this epic movie. I’ve got tons of footage. You wouldn’t believe it. I’ve got footage of everything, but it’s all based around BMX, so I want to put it together into this epic BMX movie. You might hate it. It might just be me jerking off and filming myself ride. Or you might like it, I don’t know. I want to do a good job on it. I’ve got a lot of footage of Theodore Van Orman. He will display some solid BMX riding from various spots spanning the continental United States of America. That’s a promise.

How cosmic will it be, because I noticed that your TRV900 video camera is trashed and has candle wax on the fisheye for Christ sake!
I don’t know, I don’t use the term cosmic, but I think I understand what it means. It’s like you can get to far off places quickly, so if my video can get you to far out places then it will be pretty cosmic. It will depend on how I put it together and how you look at it.

That’s what I’m talking about. Bring back the sound! The sound of landing to flat! Two flights to flat-party time!

Approximately, how many pounds of Marijuana will it take to be in the right zone to accept your video?
I don’t know. I haven’t made it yet, but that might be a bad idea to watch it on Marijuana. I don’t know if I would recommend that. I’m not trying to scare you. But I will say that Pink Floyd freaked me out after a mongoed abubaca session one time. It was scary. I think that I was thinking I was going to turn into Sid Barrett or something along those lines.

When you came to do this interview, you got into a pretty heated discussion with my girlfriend about God and religion. Can you elaborate on your beliefs on God and the afterlife?
I’d love to start my own Lutheran church when I’m older, or tomorrow. It’s a church of curved wallrides! It’s basically curved wallrides that form asymptotes into the dimensions of our afterlives, which form perfect breasts. If you can imagine that. A beautiful church made of ivy-covered brick curved wall rides. You have to have ghost vision to see the perfect breasts, but you can acquire that in church.

Since it was Steven’s birthday and a public holiday for circumcision advocates, Steven convinced the driver to let him fufanu his car. No foreskins or fluffy animals were hurt in the shooting of this stunt.

What do you think of all the brakeless and freecoaster riding that’s all the rage in BMX these days?
I think it’s pretty f—king dope. Obviously it’s like, ‘dude, you are going backwards.’ People are naturally blown away by riding backwards. My cousin, a basketball coach, asked me, “How did you learn to ride backwards?” after watching me on Youtube. I said, “It took a long time to learn.” Shit’s crazy. I kind of like it, and I’d like to bust some freecoaster moves, but I won’t talk about it, I’ll be about it! Sorry, we’ll see if it ever happens. And if it does, we can have déjà-vu. Actually, I just thought of another sweet freecoaster move. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that one before… hallelujah!
If you won the lottery, what would you buy first?
I’d buy an awesome tour bus or camper type thing so I could travel the county riding for the rest of my life, like Willie Nelson. Then I’d listen to Willie sing, “Out of kindness I suppose…” And then I might think, “I’ve got it too easy…”, and I’ll crash it on purpose.

How can you wear sunglasses at night when you ride?
My theory is that there are less distractions because you can’t see as much, so you just visualize and do it.

Word. Why did you leave Orchid?
Are you going to ride for Birkenstock anytime soon? I left because I sort of jumped into that position, it was good for me, at the time, but my life soon began to spiral out of control because of how many friends I accumulated from giving away free Orchids and Orchid clothing. I wasn’t happy with my life and I needed to make a change, so I quit, and watched that part of my life continue to spiral, breaking away from me and into oblivion. So riding for Orchid was a good experience, but I needed to quit to get my life back in order.

Someone had to do alley oop 360 this wallride gap. It was only a matter of time, and Steven’s already calling it out on his cruiser next time. It’s just as well we didn’t film any of this interview! (Being there wouldn’t even do it justice!)

What is your dream sponsor?
If they could monitor your dreams, it would be awesome. I would try to get sponsored for mine. I have had suspicions of people monitoring my dreams, secretly, in the hospital. It’s freaky. When they give me morphine, I’m in heaven and see all these beautiful women, probably like twenty per second. They never end, and all are different. So I guess my dream sponsor would be morphine.

Why is Ohio so f—ked?
I’ve never thought of Ohio as f—ked, but I will say this… Ohio is the heart of my country. Is anyone’s heart not f—ked? The answer is yes, I guess. My heart is f—ked. It has been broken many times but it is also strong, and it can rebuild itself. Ohio is the same as my heart – strong and ‘rebuildiful’.
Have you ever thought of joining the Army?
“I don’t want to be a soldier mama, I don’t want, to die” Those are the famous words of John Lennon. I sort of feel the same way, but if I were to join the armed forces I would either join the Air Force or the Marines.

Have you ever had any life changing experiences doing drugs? If so, explain…
I’ve had life changing experiences both on and off drugs. Every day can be a life changing experiment if you play it right. I’ve had good and bad experiences, pleasant and unpleasant experimental experiences on and off drugs. One memorable one was when I tried to dip (chew tobacco) and trick or treat at the same time. I ended up puking everywhere ruining my trick or treat night. That sucked. That was a very unpleasant one. A pleasant, but scary one was when a girl secretly drugged my tea with a hallucinogenic drug. Before I knew it I was making love to Kate Moss. It was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me. Then I realized that I had been drugged and asked the lady to marry me. She said no, and I miss her dearly. It was a good experience, and I’ll be way more hyped to ride when Spring comes around because of it.

Describe a typical day in the life of Steven Hamilton.
I might not leave the couch for a while and then I might sleep outside or in my car, not sleep for a long period of time or sleep for a long period of time. I’m trying to learn about myself as much as I can while I’m young so I’m not doing something weird when I’m older.

Do you see yourself living in Seattle since you lived there for a while last year?
I could see myself living there. I can see myself living in a lot of places, it’s a big world. Right now I like being nomadic – moving seasonally in search of pasture for whatever.

Do you have any good Jimmy LeVan stories?
I remember when this girl accused Jimmy of a hit and run. She falsely claimed that he ran her over in his SUV. It was on the Metal website. He had to go through all this trouble to clear his name and prove to the Police and all these people that it wasn’t him who ran over this girl. It totally wasn’t him, but this girl was determined to prove that Jimmy ran her over. So then once he proves that it wasn’t him, the girl is always running into Jimmy randomly and trying to talk to him like they are best friends. I’ve had similar experiences with girls. They’ll accuse me of something terrible that isn’t true at all with no regard for my personal well-being, and then a week later they want to hook up.

How did you get the name ‘Sandbags’?
I tracked a lot of dirt and sand into my friend’s house, and my blanket was sand coloured. It looked like there was a pile of sand on the couch when I was sleeping. Pretty funny I guess.

What’s with the obsession with sleeping outside at the side of roads when you get too wasted on the way home? Have you ever been busted by the cops?
Sometimes the police will be nice and offer me a ride home, and other times they might try to take me to jail or something. Who’s to say where you can and can’t sleep? It’s ridiculous! I understand not being able to sleep in some places, but sometimes it’s like what the heck? I was sleeping on the side of the road one time, not a busy road, and a Policeman was like, “we thought you were dead’, and I was like “no, just sleeping, I got lost and had to rest.” Then he was like, “How much did you have to drink last night, besides too much?” And, I was like,” yeah, too much, so can you give me a ride home?” The he was like “I’m going to give you a ride somewhere else if you can’t get on your bike and ride to my car and back.” I got on my bike and did a 180 and he was like, “wellllll, I guess if you can do that then you’re fine”, and then he gave me directions to get home.

What’s with the tie-dye jumpsuit you bought while you were here in Austin? Do you plan on going on tour with Phish or the Grateful Dead?
I’ve always wanted one so I bought one. I wear it to sleep sometimes and dream of being on tour with the ‘Dead.

Here’s a serious question. What inspires you to ride like the way you do?
Basically, the visions that I’ve had of the possibilities on a BMX are what inspire me to try to live the dreams that I’ve had. Dreams are what make the world go around. It’s a beautiful thing. When I was a young child, I was dreaming of jumping the mankiller, which seemed out of this world, and then I did it. I wasn’t dreaming of the curved wallride pyramids that I dream of today, they seem very far out as did the mankiller jump, but Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto brought me that much closer to my dream. And that’s what keeps me going, a labyrinth of curved wallrides spiralling into hell or through heaven.

Do you think kickspins are making a comeback?
I don’t know, are they? ‘Kickspin’ is such a funny name for them, but it makes total sense, you kick it and it spins, nothing really ‘flops’ so ‘kick-flop’ makes no sense. It sounds like a figure skating term?

Light or hard?
I like both, light beer and hard liquor, light skin and hard nipples, I don’t know, light or hard what?

Lesbians, gays, straight or fat chicks?
A lesbian once made an exception for me. Her breath was kind of funny, I hope it wasn’t from you know what…? Homosexuals are kind of weird, fat chicks are cool.

If you had a super power, what would it be?
I think I would choose time travel. I can already do it, but I would like to be super better at it, and I’d like to be able to disappear whenever I want.

List your favourite countries you have visited.
The Czech Republic is one of my favourites, we were there filming for Trafaelio. We drank absinthe and I pretended I was Edgar Allen Poe, it made me want to be a sweeter rider and do a big 180. Japan is another favourite because it was colourful and tripped out there and people were very friendly. Canada is a favourite because I like to be near moose. I am supposed to be one in a future life. Slovakia has some crazy castles.

Who would win a contest for spending time in the bathroom primping contest, Steven Hamilton, Ricky Adam or Jimmy Le Van?
I might win the ‘spending time in the bathroom jerking off’ contest.

What’s up with the Dracula fingernails in December? Didn’t you know Halloween was months ago?
I was just experimenting with long fingernails. My mom said that they were an unacceptable length and that they were gross, then she showed me a length that was kind of long but would be acceptable. I just keep them as long as I can to annoy people with them. Like, I’ll tap them on the counter like a velociraptor as I wait for the lady to deposit my cheques, it’s got to be very annoying.

Where do you see your bike-riding going in the next five years, and what do you plan to do after BMX?
I imagine I’ll probably get better. I’ll be a freestyler my whole life. I imagine I’ll ride BMX my whole life, although my guidance counsellor would insist otherwise. But I’m pretty sure I’ll ride forever. If you join my church, you get to ride in heaven! If there ever is an ‘afterbmx’, in this world I’ll probably be a movie star or a famous artist.

How long do you think you can pull off being a pro rider?
I always dreamed of being a professional BMXer as a preteen, and I still dream of being a professional BMXer today – the kind that I used to dream of as a teen. For a 24-yearold, I don’t know just how ‘professional’ I really am to be honest. Sometimes I really scare myself. But sometimes I consider myself a professional 24-year-old freestyler. I know I’ll be freestylin’ for the rest of my life. I’m only getting better at it. And it’s opening more doors for my freestylin’. So I’m going to keep freestylin’ for as long as I can. I don’t care who considers me a pro. Being a pro is like major drainage of soul. So I’ll be the best freestyler that I can be, for my whole life, and we’ll see if I get paid in heaven.

When are you going to come back and get your bike from my shed?
Pretty soon, probably. I can’t wait to ride it again. I need to fix my crank arm. I ghost-rode my bike off the Church Gap and it bent. That was funny. I remember the first time I saw the Church Gap – it was an experience. Here’s what it looked like seeing it for the first time.


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