Steven’s part from Can I Eat?
What was going on in your life you filmed this part (released in 2003)?
I was in my second year at college, and I had moved into a neighborhood that was full of new riding spots. I was going to school full-time for photography, and working a job there at the university. I was at the forefront of a small wave of riders from the Midwest who were concerning themselves with developing a new way to ride BMX. My riding was starting to be recognized on a larger scale when I placed 6th in the Ghetto Street contest and then went on Road Fools 11 later that year. My style was evolving, and was now more based on speed and bike control and less on innovative grinds. I had developed nose wheelies and added those to my trick arsenal, and I discovered a seemingly perfect U-wall, which in itself opened a new chapter of my riding and birthed a decade of innovation. I also had the tree-ride vert wall that I could session on campus and a surrounding area that was at the time a bike park of subs, hips and wall-rides to challenge my skills with. Amid all of this, I was living at one of the biggest universities in the country, so there were parties to go to and trouble to get into, which made it all more exciting.
How did you get on Animal, and end up having a part?
After my A Day Late And A Dollar Short part came out I was put on the team. I had met Bob briefly at City Hall when we were filming for that video, and when I saw him at the Flow when he was there on a Primo trip, we exchanged email addresses. I used to get stuff from Primo when I rode for Animal, and I think Bob did too. I’m not sure if he was on the Primo trip as a rider or a filmer. I think it was the time he knocked himself out there 720’ing the spine; actually that was a different time. I barely knew him, but after he saw my Day Late And A Dollar Short part, he liked my riding and he put me on the team without asking me. I know that because it was in an interview that I had. That same year I had been filming clips with this guy Mark who I had also met at the Flow. We were getting these clips and I was still filming some things with Andy Marshall, who made A Day Late And A Dollar Short. Between filming with both of those guys we were getting some good footage and I knew I was going to need some sort of a project to put the footage towards. It was around when I got the pole jam to 180 in Binghamton after one of the La Revolution contests that I started to realize that I was beginning to have the making of what could be a monumental video part. I had just gotten the gap to manual at the law building in Columbus before that trip, and I remember showing Joel Moody the footage and realizing I already had a solid base of clips and I still had the whole year ahead of me. Bob, Ralph, George and Wiz came out early that Spring and I got the clips in the green Eagles jersey, and then I took the Greyhound out to Philadelphia to film with Bob for my Spring Break. I did my Faction interview and went on Road Fools 12 that summer and then went out to the Ghetto Street jam in September. Then Bob, Edwin, Corey and Lino came out on one more trip that Fall and I finished it up filming a few clips with Mark in Columbus.
The day Steven was wearing the green Eagles jersey in Columbus, and filmed like 149 clips in one day. No Instagram filters were used to enhance this photo.
Photo print: Rob Dolecki
Favorite spot ridden?
The big hip on the roof was such a unique spot and it was such an adventure getting up there that it has to be one of my all time favorite spots. And riding it was such an experience in itself. It honestly felt like you were in another world being up there. Then the tree ride vert wall on campus was a once in a lifetime legendary Columbus spot too and also the U-wall on campus. In college my freshmen year I lived right between those two spots and it’s crazy to think how lucky I was to have possibly the best curved wall ride in the world and the best tree ride ever within about a hundred yards on each side of where I lived. The flush jersey barriers against the walls on campus were pretty cool, and then City Hall in Philly above and below ground was basically a skate plaza and one of the most legendary spots ever.
Farthest you traveled?
New York City was the furthest I traveled for this video, but we didn’t end up getting any riding clips there that day. We did film the fight that was in the 256 commercial on the dvd though. I tried to film a line bunnyhopping a divider and then nose-manualing the bakery ledge, but I didn’t get it and then I fell real hard trying to hop the divider. Also earlier that day I tried the 270 over the rail off the hip at Rutgers in Newark that’s in the fall section.
Where else was your part filmed?
The one pole jam thing was in Binghamton, NY, but basically everything else is either in Columbus or Philly.
How’s the infamous curved wall doing?
It is still there; I rode it today.
What’s your favorite clip?
I think my favorite clip is the table out of the cement quarter at the Itch Ditch. It’s a quick clip but a lot happens. I snap the table, my bike catches the branch, I clear the transfer. I like how the ditch is clean, and the graffiti, and I like the orange flowers too. I like how it’s filmed and I like how colorful it is. There was a photo of it in my Faction interview, but that was shot on a different day. You can tell because I have a different shirt on. Speaking of the ditch being clean, I’ve noticed how clean most of the spots in this part are compared to the amount of trash at spots today, I think it’s because of the economy. There’s almost no trash on the ground in the entire video part.
Your Faction cover was shot during that time period?
Yeah, that Faction cover and interview was shot that same summer. That was the same summer as Road Fools 12. Bob flew out a week early before the Road Fools and that’s when we did the Faction interview. I jumped that gap that was on the cover, but we didn’t film it because we didn’t have a video camera. Even if Bob had brought his camera, it would have been stolen. When I picked him up from the airport I went straight to the thrift store and forgot to lock my car. I would say that if he had had his camera in the car then I would have remembered to lock the doors and his stuff never would have been stolen, but I didn’t know that he didn’t have his camera. I had tried the gap before on the day that I did the long ledge manual to 180 in this part and we had filmed it, but I ended up tagging the ledge and nose-diving and putting my foot down and hurting my knee a little bit, so I wasn’t able to pull it that day. That green frame that I did the manual to 180 on and tried the gap on the first time was a Cooperative frame that Spooky Dave had made me when I was going to be starting my own company through FBM with Luc-e and Phil Wasson called the Cooperative. It was longer than what I normally rode and it was hard for me to pull up on, and I think that’s why I didn’t pull the gap the first time. I had a picture carving the same tree-ride from this section in an Animal Road Trip article in Ride magazine. I was on that bike and the caption said, “Steven Hamilton on the smallest bike in the magazine”. I don’t think that was true, because in actuality, that frame wasn’t very small. A few of the clips in this are from my Faction interview though. The nose-manual across the wooden deck I was able to do pretty consistently back then and John Paul only had to burn through a few rolls of film shooting that sequence. In the wallride over the door transfer off the grass bank you can see John Paul laying on the ground getting the angle. I can’t remember if that photo got used. Also on the tree ride to table shot over the hip towards the end you can see John Paul there peeking around the corner behind the tree, but I don’t think that would have been a very good angle for that. I think I told him to get on the other side. That was where he got the photo of the cop and me talking to the girl though, so maybe that was a good angle for that. Also that girl was bulimic, and when my friend’s brother graduated, he got a bunch of cookies and they disappeared and that girl took them in the shower and ate them all. Actually I just realized that isn’t John Paul who was behind the tree getting the photo, that was this guy Matt. The curved rail ride at the Library that was in this interview didn’t make it into this part, but did make it’s way into my All Day part luckily before that spot was torn down. And actually I didn’t even pull the one that was in the magazine; I put my foot down right after the sequence cut out and I ran into the other rail.
Why didn’t you want the manual to 180 on the fat rail in Philly in your part at first?
I think just because I already had the bigger one, but then considering that it was on the round rail and coming off the side it was different so we used it, and I’m glad we did I think it’s a cool clip.
Least favorite clip?
I’d have to say the straight-on rail ride. One of my favorite things about this footage and I think footage in general is color, and this shot is pretty dark and grey compared to the rest of the shots. That and I really just don’t like straight-on rail rides. I don’t like how they look and I really don’t like how they feel. It makes me uncomfortable just thinking about that trick, because you can’t see where your front wheel has to land until you’re over the rail. I think normally the idea is to clear the top of the rail and then downside into it; that would be pretty cool to do but I can never find one where I can really bunny hop high enough and be comfortable to do that, but if I could do that I could see that being pretty cool. I know there’s that one in New York that people always do that trick on. I should try it on that. My other least favorite clip was filmed that same day and is the 360 clip at the end. Even though I think the trick is awesome, I don’t like the dumpsters and the semi-trucks, the trash on the ground, the typical Midwest suburban whatever you call those places, and think I needed a hair cut too.
Any chance you’re going to bring back the seat stand manuals?
Yeah, I think that is a good idea. I haven’t done one in a long time and it would be good for me to do one. Maybe over a hip into a bank or something would be cool.
What took the longest to film?
I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head, but looking through the part, some of the clips that took a while to film are the red rail ride to rail ride to alley-oop 180 through the door way. I just remember it was really hot and humid and my hands were sweating every time I would try to get up on the first rail. I remember I was trying to be Jamie Thomas in Chomp on This when I did that. I’m not sure in what way, maybe just how the trick was complicated and I went through the door and how it was lit up at night. Another one that took a while was the manual to curved wall-ride to alley-oop 360. That was the first time I had done that and that manual isn’t easy making it around that turn and keeping speed to the wall. I’ve really got to give props to Mark the filmer on that one too for getting that moving shot from the road because that took me a few tries. The manual to 180 over the rail off the block is another one that took a while. Bob had seen Aaron Suski skating that thing in a video. I found that sign in the alley by there and started hoping it to land manual to 180, and again it was really hot and I took a few tries to get it around. The manual to bench manual to bench tire slide to nose manual took a couple tries and it was actually really cold when we did that one, and we were trying to get it before the sun went down. I remember my mom took me and Jon, who filmed it, out to Bob Evan’s after being out in the cold getting that one and I got a hot soup. The manual to bench tire slide in downtown I pulled first try and I remember it felt really good. The bench nose manual to 180 down the 3 stairs was I think second try, and that was kind of when I was first coming up with that trick and no one had seen it yet, and that’s why you can see Edwin clapping in the background. The double set rail ride to 180 I did first try. The very first line took a little bit for me to get the nose manual, then when I got it I got the 180 first try.
How did the song choice come about?
I knew this part was going to be big pretty early on when I started piling up clips, so I had a lot of time and put a lot of thought into trying to figure out what song I was going to use. The Violent Femmes song and Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads were my two top choices. I had some other songs in mind in case we ran into problems when we went to do the editing. A Ramones song and Things I don’t Remember by Ugly Casanova I was thinking about early on, and then maybe a Built to Spill song or a Jawbreaker song. Maybe there were some other Violent Femmes songs I was thinking about too, but I wanted to use this one the most. When we went to do the editing, Bob had a rough version edited with that Ugly Casanova song, and I remember hating it just because it wasn’t what I knew the part could be, and I had been anticipating it for so long. The song had to be pretty short, and we ended up shortening that Violent Femmes song, you can hear where we cut it right at the beginning of the line at City Hall where I 180 up the 2 stairs, then opposite 360 down the 4 or 5.
Was that your first switch 360?
Yeah, I think so; I’ve actually done a couple good ones before. There was one in The Day is Over that was pretty good, then I think I did one in Road Fools that was decent too. The one I did in The Day is Over I did a regular nollie 360 right before it in a line and I think that helps to do the regular one first. Another song that I was going to use was Uh-Oh by Lumidee which would have been completely different but I think it would have been pretty cool. I’m not positive if I almost used that for Can I Eat? because I think it didn’t come out until a year after Can I Eat? came out, so I might have thought about using it for The Day is Over, but either way that would have been cool to use that song.
If you could bring back one spot in your section that’s gone now what would it be? City Hall in Philadelphia. That was one of the most legendary spots ever. There was everything thee and the stuff underground was awesome too. Also the jersey barriers against the walls in Columbus were fun and the back to back benches have bars on them now to keep people from sleeping so you can’t hit them anymore.
Steven and what remains of Dilworth Plaza at City Hall, July 2012.
Are you going to bring back striped shirts?
I think so I got a pretty cool one the other day at a thrift store in Brooklyn so I’m going to start wearing that one I think I’m going to wear it next Wednesday.
How did you get to ride the moon?
We just used to go up there and ride it but then we got arrested once so I haven’t been up there since but now they landed on Mars so we’re going to try to ride that.
Is the OSU tree still ridable?
Not really, it is but not like it used to be. They put this huge rock in front of it. Now you can only alley-oop it if you go my way or hit it opposite but you still have to go around the rock. It sucks the rock is so big I can’t figure out how to move it.