Interview: Chris Rye / Props Visual

WITH PROPS, IT SEEMS LIKE THERE HAS BEEN A PATTERN OF ONE-UPPING YOURSELVES (MEGA TOUR, ROCK N ROLL TOUR ETC?). WOULD YOU GET BURNED OUT IF YOU DIDN’T?

Yeah, for sure. Unless you evolve you just burn out and fade off. The most exciting thing for me is to do something unique or different, or learn a new skill that makes something else you’re doing better. In the past we’ve fallen into ruts where no one feels creative or innovative and periods like that are mundane and bland. You need to innovate to push your purpose forward as much as possible. If you don’t, someone else will come along and do it.

YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN RELEASING OLDER SECTIONS ONLINE, WHICH I THINK IS A SMART IDEA. IT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO REMINISCE AND IT GIVES YOUNGER RIDERS A GLIMPSE INTO THEIR HISTORY. MORE IMPORTANTLY, YOU GUYS HAVE EMBRACED THE WEB TO TURN THE ATTENTION BACK ONTO YOURSELVES. DOES THIS SOUND RIGHT?

Posting old sections or classic moments on our .tv site definitely gives new riders a way to learn some history. We’ve been putting out videos since 1993 on a regular basis, so the archive we have is pretty incredible and puts us in a unique position among the industry. That was something we never consciously planned for, it just happened over time. No one else has that though, and it’s actually kind of crazy to have that responsibility with the history. We want to present it well. Just put it out there and say “this is what happened”.

Lately we’ve been trying to come up with ways to make the archive posts more interesting by asking people affiliated with the section to write up a quote or guest post which we’ll include on the video page. Just to add a bit of something new to something old, to kind of relate it better to today. I was really excited to do the Recall post with Jimmy Levan about the Church Gap, which a lot of people seemed to enjoy. We’ll be doing all kinds of things like that in the future for sure. There’s so much content that even picking out one particular thing is a challenge, because you want to get at the good bits people can relish and feel good about remembering – or learn for the first time. A lot of the old masters are on various forms of media that evolved over the years from Hi8, Super VHS, MiniDV to DVD-r, which degrade over time. Some are in old dusty boxes, but having to go back and find things now for the site has me organizing it better.

There was an accident a number of years ago where biodiesel got spilled on my garage floor and it soaked into some of the old cardboard tape boxes. All the tapes were in cases so nothing was really damaged, but biodiesel is a solvent so it melted some of the plastic MiniDV cases. The Road Fools 1 source tapes were in one of the boxes. You realize quickly how irreplaceable some of it is!

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED IN PROPS THESE DAYS?

At the moment, four main people. Marco Massei, Stew Johnson, Terrell Gordy, and myself. Ryan Navazio helps out time to time, and Rich Forne in the UK is working on an Owned section.

Marco Massei runs the office, Stew Johnson is doing the Video Magazine and Owned sections, Terrell Gordy is doing tons of great exclusive content for PropsBMX.tv and some Owned parts, and myself who does a little bit of everything. We try to keep a pretty tight crew of talented people. So lately I’ve been focused pretty heavily on the website and working with Terrell with everything he’s doing.

THE PROPS BRAND HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE THE EARLY 90’S AND REALLY SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU GUYS IN THE FUTURE?

We’ve had some good talks recently about improving the company, it’s efficiency, and to better prepare for the future which is web-based. RIght now a lot of effort is going into PropsBMX.tv. Terrell and I are on that full time and Marco is helping where he can. I’m the only one in the company who works with html and CSS, so that all falls on me for now. We started some new exclusive web series and are slowly adding as much as we can, whether it be new web vids, archive sections, interviews, or whatever. The sky is the limit with what we want to do with it, so expect good things down the line on that front! We’re hoping Owned will become our new premium physical video, and a lot is going into it to help make it successful. It will be the first Blu-Ray we’ve ever put out, so we’re excited about that for sure. We finished our 7th season of shows for Fuel TV not too long ago and are preparing new show ideas to pitch them for 2011. They’ve been handed down new directives from NewsCorp that changes the kind of shows they want, so this year will be the first time we may go out and shoot an actual TV show from scratch. A bit daunting, but we’re confident we can pull it off well.

YOUR FIRST ISSUE HAD BILLY GRIGGS ON THE COVER, AND YOUR MOST CURRENT HAS TOM DUGAN (I BELIEVE). YOU GUYS HAVE SEEN A LOT. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BMX AND WHERE IT’S AT THESE DAYS.

It’s become a literal whirlwind! There’s always been a lot going on, but the vast majority was kept more less hidden except what was going on around you or what you’d see in magazines or physical videos. Now everything gets posted online so it’s all right in front of you…. so much so that it sometimes becomes overwhelming. It’s more challenging now to make a purposeful mark in BMX. You have to do something above average to stand out at a minimum, and something extraordinary to get a lot of attention. I’ve always been image and media focused in BMX and not too involved in frames and parts, but I think it’s interesting how some of the bike companies and brands have changed over the years. Now you see a lot of parent companies with a bunch of little child brands beneath under their main umbrellas. And the riding obviously! Damn the riding level is just insane!

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME CHRIS. ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD BEFORE WE WRAP THIS UP?

Just thanks again for the opportunity and and I hope we all see good things in the future. Thanks Nuno.

  • Chad Moore

    Great interview, I wonder from time to time how those dudes were doing. So good to see they are keep afloat!! So much of my life was influenced by Props videos, its crazy. LOVE.

  • I grew up on Props; spending up to $40 (Canadian) to buy an issue, memorizing quotes from Road Fools and following in their nomadic footsteps. Very cool read. Keep it up (Defgrip & Props).

  • C. Doyle

    I used to save my lunch money to buy issues of Props. The one with the Kris Bennett interview was my favorite.

  • Mike Yaquinto

    Loved Props videos as a kid and still do, keep it up cause everyone knows when a props video is coming out its going to be good.

  • LandonP

    Good interview, I definitely won’t ever get sick of the Props videos

  • I used to buy every issue of Props from issue 3.
    and watched every issue more than 10 times.
    Props has been a super BMX information source for us in Japan.

  • Jeff Sack

    I have several boxes of VHS Props issues in my basement. The credits were always the best. We’d quote dudes at our local trails… Miron calling out Stauffer, JRP on taking a shower, Reynolds on clipless pedals… Such great memories!

    The one with the C. Doyle interview where he wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up is my favorite.

  • Peterg

    Props created some of the best memories and friends for me. So thank you!

  • Craig R

    I feel honored to have been a part of Props. That was a great time in my life, and they were part of it. Amazing.

  • Rob j

    Great interview! Props was also an incredible source for new music growing up. I remember pausing vids, trying to figure out the band names and going down to the record store with a list of music I wanted.

  • Dylan

    Props should do a re-release of the early years. Maybe a special dvd that has the whole first year with some bonus stuff; it could have a little insert that shows the covers on individual pages with an old Props sticker or something. I think a lot of older guys would buy these because it is very hard to find these old issues these days.

  • south bay dre

    good read.

  • Emsea

    Did anyone else find the messages printed on the tabs inside the covers?


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