Q&A: STEVE CRANDALL

I’ve known Crandall for a long time, so it’s kind of strange that it took this long to get him on the site in some sort of personal Q&A form. He’s been featured here a bunch, but never like this. Perhaps I always struggled with how to approach it, thinking that Steve has been well documented and just falsely assuming that people know everything about him. With that said, here we are.

This Q&A is broken up into 4 digestible topics, which feels like a good approach. We discuss Art, Announcing Contests, The FBM bus and FBM.

Click below to read up.

Photo – Kaleb Bolton

ART

Have you been artistic your whole life?

I don’t know, I’ve always had an active imagination… I think I had some crayons when I was really young.

It seems like you draw or paint pretty regularly. Do you make it a point to be creative daily, or just when inspiration hits? 

I try to do something creative and/or productive everyday, whether its art, photography, writing, riding, or what have you, but its not structured. In the winter it seems like I have more time to focus on paintings, when the weather is good I seem to always find myself outdoors as often as possible, but the ‘art studio’ in the bus moves outside to a makeshift outdoor studio next to the bus. I also travel A lot, which makes it harder to keep a routine of staying active, but lately I’ve been bringing some paints, brushes, pens and tiny canvases/painted paper to doodle on while I’m in the wild.

Favorite medium to work with?

On paintings I usually use Acrylic and watercolors on heavyweight (ish) cold press watercolor paper, sometimes spray paint too, and spilled coffee. When I am just making a doodle I’ll use whatever is laying around, prisma colored pencils/markers, Faber-Castell pens, white out, sharpies, whatever, no real rules or guidelines, just freestyle…

What was your first doodle/drawing that you put on an FBM shirt? 

The “I love my Bicycle” sketchy hand drawn logo… like 26 years ago, and still going. We must have made thousands of them…

What are your top 3 favorite FBM designs?

Hard to say, there’s been hundreds of FBM shirts over the years… Two ridiculous shirts were the ’drummer from Def Leppard’ shirt and the ‘transvestite monkey wrench’ drawings, but this were just silly. Probably the FBM Heart Logo, the Dave Clymer inspired stars and bars helmet, and I Love my Bicycle… There have been others that stand out as well, the FBM 10 year art, If Coffee were outlawed, shit I dunno.

Photo – Murphy Moschetta

ANNOUNCING CONTESTS


What was your first big paid announcing gig and were you scared shitless? 

In the old days, and for FBM events, or hosting Props stuff,  it was all mostly unpaid work, I did a few Red Bull gigs, those paid, and Texas Toast was when it all started taking off (thank you very much). I wasn’t really scared because at the events back in the day we all knew each other and most everyone was drunk anyway. I think it was the final Texas Toast, that I first announced a big event after sobering up, it was so outrageous however, everyone thought I was drunk anyway. I just get so stoked on BMXer’s throwing down though, it’s awesome,  I just get hyped…

What goes into the preparation of announcing the bigger contests, say Vans?

I usually just show up and watch practice at the big TV style events, if I over think it I get uptight, almost nothing I say is rehearsed, it’s all pretty situational.

Has there been a “get me outta here” moment? Do tell.

I’m not sure, but anytime a rider gets really hurt, it’s a big time bummer, I hate that part of it. Sometimes I make the riders laugh during their runs and feel bad if I break their concentration, I mean I’m  cracking jokes during these guys runs, and it’s their livelihood, but at least they are smiling.

I’ve heard you call out certain tricks completely and comically wrong on purpose – Example: truckdriver as a fufanu. I love that. Can you get away with that at all the events, or just the smaller ones? 

Often times I am working with Darry Nau, and he does such a good job providing play by play commentary, that I think it opens it up for me to be a little more playful. Most of the riders at these events know what the tricks are and the people that are there and don’t know heads from tails, aren’t really listening to anything I’m saying anyhow, just how I’m saying it, so I just wing it. Like the riders at these events,  I take it all serious, in that I want to do a good job, but i don’t think being serious about BMX overall is much fun.

Did you ever think you would be announcing a contest from the bed of a monster truck wearing all white?

I always had it in the back of my mind that some day that would happen…

THE FBM BUS

When and why did you buy the FBM school bus? Were you looking for a bus, or just happened to come up on one for sale?

When I was a younger BMXer, The SE racing bus was something I’d see in the old magazines, Bikes stacked on it, people hanging out the windows I thought it was so cool looking, a grassroots tour, in an old bus with a bunch of wild BMX kids, it made an impression. Later on I’d seen a movie called ‘Another State of Mind’ with a bunch of punk bands touring all around America in an old bus, I would watch that VHS over and over with my friends…So I had already had the idea in my head, then our tour van caught on fire on one trip and I found this bus on craigslist… The year in year out touring has given us an opportunity to meet thousands and thousands of riders face to face and make an impression of our own, hopefully one that got people stoked on BMX.

The bus must be super efficient. How many miles per gallon does it get? 

7 maybe 8 mpg’s.

Have you ever been pulled over or had any interesting interactions with the public when they come across the bus? After all, it is sort of ominous looking.

The exhaust is just a straight pipe off a big diesel engine, so it sounds pretty wild. One time we were leaving NYC and a cop pulled us over, and he’s just kinda weirded out and I wouldn’t open the side door and made him talk to me out the sliding driver side window, and he’s like- “this thing is too LOUD, SOMETHINGS WRONG…” and I’m just like- “ya it sounds like a dragon!” – he was not impressed, gave me a noise ordinance ticket, everyone had a good laugh though.

People are either stunned, stoked, appalled or all the above when they see the bus and the characters that roll out of it. Some kooks feel right at home and just hop on and enjoy the company of the crew, other times I’ve had to kick the police off the bus,  Hoder off the roof of it (while we were driving). Weirdos from lurking inside, etc… The Bus is so unique it draws all types, often thinking we are a rock and roll band when at truck stops and such, when asked what band we are, we call ourselves PISS BOMB, inspired by peeing in a bottle while in transit.

When did you decide to live permanently in the FBM bus?

Two years ago… The people that owned the building my apartment was in wanted to renovate it and double the rent. I am already a cash poor human,  so you do the math.

What are some of the hardships and some of the freedoms that living on the bus provides?

At this point I guess it all seems normal, no matter what, if things are dull or kinda wild, I think you end up getting used to it.  Sometimes, when it’s too cold, too hot, too cluttered, or being pounded on by a storm it’s totally different than living in a normal home. I’m literally really close to being outdoors, so It changes my relationship and understanding of the world that surrounds me. That being said however, after the downsizing and streamlining to fit most of my life in the bus (my bikes don’t fit) – I feel a little less claustrophobic. There’s an old saying- the more you own, the more it owns you, or something like that. I’m digging a more simple life, at least my tiny little version of it. 

The idea of chopping wood, to fire up the wood stove, and doing art, drinking coffee and listening to music sits alright with me, little things like seeing a direct result from my efforts, doing more with less,  it’s like being closer to the truth.


Photo – Kaleb Bolton

FBM

How is FBM these days?

We had our best year in 2018 as far as sales and engagement go, our bikes are awesome (minus promo, we sold every single one we made), tours and events we host have had a great reception from the community, all signs pointing to totally fucking awesome! The fact of the matter beyond that however, is that a changing landscape in BMX media, retail and the overall sustainability of a dwindled industry doesn’t help the cause of a small independent business based with in U.S. manufacturing, times are changing, the global market is uncertain, and we don’t have enough subscribers on our youtube channel! Times are lean, and being in the bike industry is tough, but riding bikes is fun, so we are still at it!

Sometimes I like to think of FBM in terms of bands like the Ramones, or Motorhead, for all their merits and for being so well known, being commercially successful and all the typical perks of fame wasn’t really a part of it. They lived the Rock and Roll lifestyle, earned more respect than money, and their influence is undeniable. Maybe part of the struggles kept them honest and the art was rarely diluted… It was real.

What is your day to day like when it comes to running/leading the brand?

Depends on what we are up to… A lot of my work is done remote, or out in the field, Sometimes it’s screwing sketchy ramp materials together and painting weird things on said ramps, sometimes it’s driving countless miles, shooting or editing photos and videos, reviewing debt service, working on social media, planning events or trips, interfacing with the people that make up the FBM community, team, staff, dealers, distros, industry types and such, sometimes its working with the guys at FBM on new products, graphics, packaging or updating the website, writing stories, or captions, sometimes, its none of and all the above (rarely ever on the same day). Mainly my day to day consists of trying to get people stoked on BMX and FBM, and finding some time to ride my bike and spend time with good people.

Drink Coffee, Ride Bikes, Have Fun!

Are you doing all the art/graphics these days or do you work with different people?

Everything is a collaborative effort at FBM, my department is art direction, promotions, social media, team, video and photo related stuff… The most recent round of graphics was done by working with Jessie Jay of True Hand Society, he took my ideas, and the spirit of FBM, and developed one of our strongest graphic line ups to date. Everything is better when working with like minded people with similar goals.

Do you ride a custom frame?

I ride a production FBM Steadfast, only thing custom is the red paint and the super old FIFTEEN, and This Bike Is Pipe Bomb stickers…

What is something that you would like people to know about being an American made frame/parts brand?

It’s challenging but rewarding… I have always said though the most important part of U.S. manufacturing is that it’s made by US, its the people behind our brand that make it crucial.

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