What was going on in your life when Tread issue 4 came out? It was summer of 1997? Yeah. It was a pretty wild year, I don’t know if I moved into the Superdome that year. I would always hang out there; I was on and off at that place.
Who lived at the Superdome? It was Luc-E, Joe Rich, Mel Cody, Sandy Carson, Bevs, Taylor, Price, There were always people from random different states and foreign countries staying on the couches and anywhere they could, always packing the house up. There were always foreign languages flying around the house, I could never understand what the hell was going on. (Laughs) But somehow we understood enough to hang out, chill, party and ride; always a good time. Never a dull moment. (Laughs)
You shared a room with Luc-E? Yeah, I was about 18 maybe, and my dad and I were getting on each other’s nerves, so I moved out and started staying in Luc-E’s room and rode Lehigh every day of my life. (Laughs) I would hear a Misfits cover band made up of Price and a few dudes every single day. They would either play a tape of it, or play it live every single day, the same songs. It used to drive me nuts. I used to actually like the Misfits, now I can’t stand them. It may have been to my advantage because it would make me get off my lazy ass and go ride a few times a day.
How was riding Lehigh back then? It used to be good back then. People rode it, but not as many as later on, it wasn’t a big bust. Carloads of crews from other towns or whatever would then start coming by. Sometimes we would start throwing stuff at cars parking in front the Superdome, and yell at them because they were riding it all the time and blowing it up. Every time we would go ride it cops would start harassing us. After all those years (knocks on wood) still haven’t gotten my name taken down. I don’t go often. You can still get it in; you just can’t go with a big crew.
You miss the knee-high rail at Lehigh? Yes and no. It was good; I learned some tricks on it. But at the same time it just attracted every bike rider, skateboarder and rollerblader from every town to ride it. Skateboarders even cut it down one time to make it shorter; it was getting ridiculous…
So it became the ankle high rail? Yeah, it made Lehigh so red; cops would know as soon as you roll up you were going to that rail. I ripped it out a couple of times, and put it in the bushes, hoping Lehigh wouldn’t put it back. Eventually it was gone. I could definitely deal without it, there’s other rails.
‘97 was the first year you went to the X-Games? Yeah I got invited to go there for dirt jumping. I used to ride Posh and Black Track all the time.
You have a jump named after you at Posh, still to this day. Yeah, that’s awesome, I got to go down and jump it soon. (Laughs) I used to kill myself on it every day, like it was my last day of riding. I would do every trick I knew until either my bike broke or I got hurt or too tired to ride or walk anymore, then go home. That was my style, don’t stop until you get broke. (Laughs)
(Photo courtesy of Ride BMX)
The cover photo wasn’t on that jump, was it? No, it was the jump after it.
You were riding for Hoffman? Yeah, Mat Hoffman, Chuck D. and Steve Swope came by the Superdome one time to pick up Taj. My friend Bob Goosely made a video that he and I rode in. Luc-E and Mel had a copy of it, and someone popped in the video to show Hoffman. Mat was all excited that I did the Toadstool, a trick he made up on vert. He asked me if I wanted a frame, and to call if I need any parts. After that they started sending me places and I started traveling more. I went to England for a King Of Concrete contest and actually got first somehow because I jumped off a roof or something. I went to Malaysia, it was crazy; a different world. Kuala Lumpur had this mall that was like six floors. One whole floor was an arcade.
How did it feel seeing the magazine cover for the first time? I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea. I remember hearing about the new magazine Tread, and that Chris Hallman started it up; psyched on Hallman. Next thing you know I’m on the cover. It was one of the first photos I had in a magazine. I wish Tread was still around; it was short-lived.
Final issue of Tread.
How was the Bethlehem scene back then? There was the Superdome, the Salt Shack, the Butt Hut; a bunch of crews with different scenes. Half the time you didn’t know all the riders.
Props issue 21 Bethlehem Scene Report from 1997, featuring Butcher and a few Superdome roommates you may have heard of. Wiz has a clip in there also.
How does it compare today? There’s still a huge scene. It’s a little more separated though, where you have guys who just ride trails, just street, or trails and ramps. Before everyone kind of rode everything; you didn’t care what you were riding that day. Sometimes people will be in town for a month straight and I don’t even know they’re around. It’s still awesome, there’s always new people coming up and chillin’; it’s always unbelievable here. I didn’t know it was that good here until I started traveling, with all the pros that came from here, lived here, or came through to ride. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before.
You’ve had three magazine covers, right? Yeah, this and two Dig covers (issues 15 and 72).
How does it feel to have all of them from the Bethlehem area? Pretty crazy, I never really thought about that. (Laughs) That’s true. It’s good, it’s crazy to think that what goes on here and that people are good enough here to get in magazines and videos. I guess there’s not too many places that you can do that. It’s good, I’m psyched.