Q&A: Chris Rye / Props Road Fools

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Props' legacy within BMX is undeniable. Throughout its run, it gave us a glimpse into all aspects of riding, showcased plenty of riders, put you on to new music, revealed personalities and captured many classic moments. Anytime a Props would drop, we would gather at a friends house and watch the shit out of it. I'm sure it was the same for most of you (unless you had no friends). The Road Fools series of course, took it all to the next level.

Props is about to release a Road Fools Collectors Edition Box Set, which basically means that all the classic-ness can be found in one place. The following Q&A with Props founder Chris Rye  sheds some insight on the Road Fools history as well as the new box set, which you can now.

Enjoy!

Let's start at the beginning. How did the idea/concept for Road Fools hatch?

While working on the Box Set project, Jimmy reminded me of a story I had long ago forgotten. It was 1997 and he had just been dropped from Huffy, and not long before that we had finished the Annihilator video which had some pretty awesome street footage of Jimmy in it. We had a good time working on that video together, and Jimmy lured me down to Louisville with promises of southern girls, partying and good times. From there I hopped on a road trip with him and Leland down to South Carolina to film some street clips and visit a chick he knew down there. During that trip we had some discussions, and he gave me advice that sort of changed a bunch of things. For one, he convinced me to settle on a new, bold design for a Props logo, which was actually unveiled for the first time on what would become Road Fools 1. On that trip we had conversations about trying some kind of full on road trip video some day, maybe a section for an Issue of Props. It just so happened that not long after, there was a lull in industry events around the same time we needed content for Issue 23. So we decided to get some friends together and take a two week road trip to create some material for the Issue.

After the trip it was obvious we had some pretty groundbreaking footage, which actually became the entirety of Issue 23 because there was so much. The way I put it together was loosely based on an MTV show of that time, called “Road Rules.” I think Taj thought of the “Road Fools” name, but he's had too many concussions to verify this. After that we decided to create a new series called Road Fools and it went from there.

How did you go about picking the right “cast” for the first one? The right formula seems key.

It wasn't like we actually “cast” it proper, but just got lucky everyone meshed so damn well. We had been hanging out with a lot of those dudes at the time anyway, and we were all friends. It was a unique time in BMX, the industry was about to go through some major changes. Taj and Joe were about to reveal T1, and riders would soon to take over the industry with their own brands. So it was an exciting time, everyone was really motivated to ride hard and have a good time on the trip. We had a real long drive in the beginning, which confined everyone in the RV and created a lot of time for talking, bonding and just hanging out. Then when the first riding day started it was just a continuation of all that, and things went crazy from there onward.

Was there anyone who passed up the opportunity to go on RF 1?

Not that I remember, no. Though, we're not exactly sure how John Paul got on it in Colorado. Even he won't reveal the secret.

What kind of planning/logistics went into the first Road Fools, seeing as it was kind of uncharted territory at the time?

For the first one, pretty much none. It was February, and there was snow on the ground in Chicago, so the plan was to just get to warmer weather and then ultimately to Austin, where Joe and Taj were living, to end the trip there and hit up downtown for antics. So once in Colorado, we just kind of weaved around making it up as we went along. No one could've predicted we'd end up hanging out with cowgirls in backwoods Colorado towns, or that Robbo would celebrate his 25th birthday in Roswell, NM.

Were there any ball ups behind the scenes that might not be well known?

At the end of the trip in Austin the rig broke down, perhaps the tranny, and we had to leave it there to get worked on. Some of us had to take rental cars to get home, then Marco flew back to Austin a couple weeks later to drive the RV back to Chicago. I think we ended up having to sue someone because of that, perhaps whoever had sold us the RV. But I can't remember exactly, may have been a warranty issue with the repair.

The Road Fools series is undoubtedly classic, and everyone seems to have a favorite. Mine was RF 4 (#1 was obviously classic though). Which was yours?

I like 1 a lot, just because it's really raw and sort of loose – and of course the riding was really groundbreaking at the time (and some still is). I remember getting home with all the footage from the trip and not knowing exactly how to put it together, just because there was no template or anything to go on. There was a deadline for the Issue coming up pretty quick too, and I believe I edited it in something like 12 straight days. As for the rest of the trips, I like lots of bits and pieces of all of them for various reasons. The 2nd Rock-n-Roll Tour is a fav of mine as well, because there was a lot that went into putting it together and I was pretty happy with how it all came out. And I like the most recent one a lot too, trip 18.

  • Oompa

    Thanks Chris for all you hard work and documenting our sport in the best possible light. It is very much appreciated. Oh and the music…. awesome!!

  • Jimmy Le Van

    Hell yeah Chris! This was a great time for us all. The little trip to SC then Road Fools were probably the most fun times times of my life. Thanks for making for making our talks actually come to life. BMX would not be the same with out your work bro, much thanks !