Intro & Interview by Effraim.
Photos: By Kent Pearson.
Back in November as I sat planning content for the opening month of the year, a few names popped up that I thought deserved an interview and of course with that, so much deserved coverage. Jody Temple fits this category, when I think about Jody’s video parts, “Same thing daily”, “Video Name”, “Flatcrap” and Intrikat “Background” spring to mind, I think to myself how can this guy be underrated, he’s on some of the best videos? Perhaps the answer lies in his trick choice…and also I think thats the appeal in his riding, Jody is paving his own way, and his unique composition of tricks makes his riding aesthetically standout from many others, without further a due lets get right into this well deserved interview!
Introduce yourself Jody, where you from, your age, how long riding?
My name’s Jody Temple, I grew up in a small town called Hartwell, that’s 45 miles from Athens, 36 years young and riding since ’88.
Tell me about the Athens Georgia scene Jody?
There’s been a flatland scene here for well over 25 years. I grew up in the shadows of Kent Pearson and Mark Bell. Mark had a beautiful natural grace on a bike and the riding I got to see from him when I was 13 is still on a high level in my mind; he was one of the guys who learned hitchhikers within a week or two of us hearing about it, and he was the inventor of the Do-or-Die, which is a framestand jump to barride that Martin Aparijo stole and got in Freestylin’ mag doing a how to. He got hurt real bad in ’92 and never really got back into riding, which is a real shame, I think he could have really had an impact. He had tricks that were way ahead, fire hydrant decades to pedal wheelies to death and dumptrucks, and he did 180 fudgepacker varials years before I saw Wilhelm do them.
But it was me and Kent who really loved BMX. He grew up 30 miles closer to Athens and moved there to ride with Mark full time and go to school in ’91. I spent every weekend there from then on riding in the semi-infamous Tate Student Center parking lot. Kent took me to my first ever big contest, the 3rd ever BS contest in Daytona in Sept ’92, my mom even wrote me a sick note so I could skip school! Met a guy named Darren Hough there who moved to Athens in ’94 to go to UGA, then two months later a guy who really changed the scene saw us riding for Sunshine Cycles at the Christmas parade: Gregg Overstreet. We would become inseparable riding partners for the next few years. I actually dropped out of college to move to Athens and have the 1st ever BMX house here in ’95. It was a total disaster but still real fun. But thanks to Gregg we met Kerry Gatt and Brian Tunney around ’96 and that really started what I consider to be Athens getting on the flatland map. After that we became friends with the hardcore crews from North Carolina, Tennessee and New Jersey and went to some really great contests that Play and Useless clothes put on, which is how I met Terry Adams in ’97 at a contest in Myrtle Beach. In ’98 Gregg wanted to go to the BS contest that was held in St. Petersburg FL. I couldn’t afford to go so Gregg told me he’d pay my way, with some assistance from Duncan Gore. That was a fortuitous event because I got to personally witness what I think is one of the most important events in the history of flatland. Kent and Gregg were putting on the 1st ever Twilight contest in Athens so we went armed with flyers for it. Chad and Amy Johnston hopped in sketch ass little pickup truck and drove to Florida from Cali with the intent to make a video of their travels. Nathan Penonzek went on a road trip that he’s still on and Martti Kuoppa was on a mission to reinvent flatland. We all wound up at the same hotel and they all came to our contest, which afterwards the sessions went down in a sketchy warehouse where Nate and Martti killed it in a tiny area that was some of the best riding in InTRIKat’s return video, Linkt. I also had the total honor of getting a clip in there. I always wondered where InTRIKat would have gone if they’d not all met in the same fashion. Nathan wound up becoming a great friend and used Athens as a homebase, while he was traveling the country and the world killing it, and also brought Viki (Gomez) and Simon (O’Brien) to Athens.
But nothing lasts forever. Gregg just sorta fell out of the scene, but fortunately Jon Dowker, AKA The Duke took over the role as our main ambassador, then Darin Wright moved here followed by Shayne and Roman when they graduated high school and Andrew Wickham moved here just cuz he’d heard there was a scene back in ’04. Dane moved here after he graduated college in fall of ’06, and we all are very good at having very good times.
How did you get into flatland riding?
I originally wanted to skate, but my parents wouldn’t spend the money for it. A friend of mine in 6th grade told me boards were cheaper in BMX mags so i bought a few issues of BMX Plus but never really looked at them. For some reason one day a photo of Joe Gruttola doing a no hand freak squeak caught my eye and it was on after that, all I wanted was to get a flatland bike.
I was curious if you would mention Nathan and Martti, thats the first I remember the Athens Georgia scene, lot of history there for sure, moving on…. What is flatland to you?
Flatland simultaneously saved and ruined my life. I think flatland and street skating say something, but I’m not sure what exactly. I always thought it was kind of like drawing pictures in the sand, you spend so much for something so fleeting and ephemeral, yet I think it’s one of the most beautiful human expressions ever. I think it’s more art and expression than sport.
Anyone who has seen Dane’s videos will know your riding, tell me about the process of filming a video part, do you have Dane come out to film, or are you guys all filming separately?
Shayne Khajenoori and Roman Wilson probably did the most for me in Flatcrap and Video Name since they lived here then. After Dane moved here in ’06 he pretty much has been my exclusive filmer. I definitely enjoy filming him too, he’s always got secret things I don’t get to see except when he’s ready to film them. I usually make lists of tricks and after a bunch seem pretty sure of happening I want to film a part. But some of the best things I’ve ever filmed were accidents and not planned the way I originally wanted; other times it’s hard to get stuff filmed and I’ve accepted things that weren’t as good as they could have been, but that just the way it is…
If you had to pick your favourite time period in flatland what would that be and why?
I definitely don’t live in the past, but I think the most happening times for me started with Baco 6 in late ’94 up until Baco 8 in ’99. Sandwiched between there are Ell’s great video’s, especially Release the Grease, the entire go to Cali movement to be a flatland bum, the Flatland Fugitives, and Andrew Faris. I still remember getting the Prop’s with his interview, wow. SO much happened in that 5 year period that influenced me forever, not just the riding but the hardcore approach to flatland and a commitment to some sort of lifestyle that had riding at it’s center. People who rode flat were trying to do their own things and have stand out, original tricks alongside being committed to living the endless summer lifestyle.
How’s your bike set up these days?
Pretty f’in sweet. 19″ toptube and a chrome front end, still rock 48 radial. I really dig the InTRIKat bars and thank Shayne and Darin for spreading the gospel of Comet tires.
I noticed that your crew in Athens largely stay away from pumping, theres a lil’ on halfpackers and stuff, I was curious if that was a conscious effort to stay away from it aesthetically?
I have always made a conscious effort to avoid what I consider the trendiest or cliched tricks, especially after the turbine steam almost monopolized the flatland style. I’m still curious as to why a trick Chase did in ’97 or ’98, became the most copied thing ever in all of flat, yet so many other tricks were never copied by others. I stole Andrew Faris’ hang 5 flips and to this day I have never seen any other person do that trick except me, and I still think it’s such a cool trick. On the flip side I recently made up a new switch that requires the steam turbine technique so I’ve been working on that and found out why it’s probably so popular, it’s really fun to do and teaches some good bike control I didn’t really have before. So for the last few weeks I’ve been doing more on turbine steams and McCircles, but I decided to use them as salt and pepper on my riding instead of being my bread and butter. Inside 1/2 packers are a favourite of mine and it’s almost required to pump those. I think here we’re just committed to creating our own style and being original in our approaches as much as possible. Me, Kent Pearson, Darren Hough, Gregg O, the Duke, Shayne K, Roman Wilson, Darin Wright, Andrew Wickham and Dane were or are the staples of the scene here and everyone of those guys rides his own version of flatland without there being an ‘Athens’ style.
I was doing a bit of research for the interview and I noticed that you always used to ride in the annual Toronto contest, but you don’t compete much elsewhere, are you more interested in the video part side of things than contest riding?
Going to those contests taught me I had no business in the competitive side of flatland unfortunately. Turns out I finally figured out that I was having horrible anxiety attacks when I try to ride in front of other people and I’ve been taking steps to have a more positive mental outlook instead of falling into these terrible depressions and anxieties that contests and jams used to provoke. I’m just not consistent enough to ‘practice’ for those kind of events, but now that I know myself better I’m kinda looking forward to maybe just going to a contest and busting out and not worrying about what others might think. Doing new tricks for myself and to film is much more interesting to me. I’m more of a quantity over quality rider, I’d rather have a 1000 sketchy tricks under my belt than being super consistent at 3 super combo’s, but that’s just my approach and could see how that wouldn’t appeal to everyone.
Totally agree with you there Jody, the chase for new tricks is a beautiful thing, it’s the most satisfying when you ride to your spot with no idea what you will learn then come home with 2-3 new tricks, I always found that beautiful and addictive. It’s hard to explain to people outside of flatland what we do and why. You’ve already talked about being in the flatland scene for a long time, who are some of your favourite riders?
Chad DeGroot, Andrew Faris, Chase, Viki, Yanmar, Simon, Michael Sommer, Akira Okamura, Dane, Tunney, Aaron Behnke, Cory Fester, Dez, Markus Redlberger, & Pete Olsen all come to mind, that kinda runs the gamut of then to now.
I always looked at your riding as very unique, especially in this modern era, your clips, video parts stand out, lot of unique switches, what’s your opinion about the modern era of flatland riding?
It’s pretty rare that anything in flatland catches my eye anymore, and I still think that’s from a lack of effort to do new tricks by a lot of riders. I spend waaay more time watching skateboarding, cuz that’s is where I see so much more of a unique approach to the concept of shredding. Of course there’s still incredible, unique and original flat out there, but there seems to be an inordinate amount copycat riding coming from incredible riders with great ability and no imagination. I don’t understand how so many people don’t want to stand out. Of course this isn’t a morality problem and I don’t look down on people who ride like that, I just think the world of flatland would be far richer if some people would take their incredible abilities and couple them with their imagination and use them to stand out instead of disappearing into the world of already saw that 6 six years ago.
It’s that old saying “dare to be different” Jody, its interesting that you mention skateboarding, and I hear you on what you are saying because I watch a lot for skateboarding, but a lot of times, I find myself thinking skateboarding is largely the same tricks, but done bigger, done bigger sets, different obstacles, we don’t have that in flatland do we? Skateboarding is a lot to do with style, theres a million kids doing frontside flips but they wont ever look like Andrew Reynolds for example, whats your take on style in flatland, theres the Rebel Jam coming up, and I believe they are judging style there?
There are definitely some incredibly stylish riders out there, I don’t think that’s an area that is lacking. Even if someone’s tricks don’t stand out often their style does. Plus it’s something you can work on; if I see a trick and i don’t like my style I make an effort to smooth it out. As far as being a category in a contest, that might be tricky. We all like different styles in our lives, whether it be clothing, music, tricks etc, so at the end of the day it’s just one’s own individual choice, which makes me wonder how anyone judges contests ‘objectively’, I don’t really think it’s possible. I think when I’ve judged I’ve always used style as one of the criteria though, ya gotta look good out there. As far as skating go’s, I really just like watching creative people express themselves, especially in unique terrains. One must always look for new creative opportunities.
How many video parts for the record have you filmed, and which are you most proud of?
I had one clip in Intrikat’s Linkt, then sections in Background, Neon Media’s Control Issue and Impaqued, a couple of appearances in Flatland Manifesto, and Dane’s video’s, Flatcrap, Video Name, and SameThingDaily’s 1 & 2. Background is probably the one I’m most proud of, that was such a heavy hitting video and to be included with the roster that was in that one was such an honor, plus me and Anthony Durbano were pretty close back then and having our parts back to back made us both stoked. Thanks Chad, not just for including me, but everything you’ve done for flatland.
Intrikat and Chad have done so much for the progression of flatland riding, This leads onto my next question, are you working on any new video parts? Is the chase for new tricks and progression what drives you riding wise?
I’ve got a pretty long list of tricks to do so I’m gonna work on an edit for this interview. Pretty much having more than five combo’s and finding a good song makes me wanna film. The search for new tricks is what has always kept me going back into the parking lot day after day and year after year, plus the fact that somedays I can’t imagine doing anything better than riding BMX. It can be maddening sometimes ,but when you have a good day riding it makes it all worth it. Everything has a price.
I guess the following questions I have for you are about aesthetics. I don’t really ask these normally, but I feel like you think about the aesthetics more than do, so I’ll fire away Jody!
Big combo or small combo?
Both are fine, long combo’s are great if they’re not repetitive and flow well, but short clever combo’s sometimes stand out too.
Videopart or contest win?
For me a videopart, but if I could rule the dance floor I know winning a contest feels good as well.
Two scuffs or a circle pumping to set up?
Depends, two scuffs is better than five circles of fighting and pumping, but if one can shorten the pumps and make it look good then I’d have to give it to the latter.
How do you view riding with brakes in this modern era of brakeless riding?
I think I usually sort of separate the two in my head as two different styles. My favourite riding is usually by people with brakes, because I think there are more technical possibilities, however I’ve seen Matthias in person several times and what he can do at his best without brakes is an unholy sight to behold.
If you had to pick a video to show someone what flatland is, what video would you show them?
My mom sent me Danny Macaskill’s video’s and a cousin once sent her some artistic cycling video’s. I forwarded the Hyperspeed Johnny and the Destruction Kid video to them, in my opinion that’s one the highest level video’s ever. Moto’s 3 minute combo or the pedal 10 edit’s would be good choice to start with too.
If you missed Jody’s flatmatters exclusive, here it is again!
Interesting choice Jody! A few readers sent in some awesome questions, lets get into a few that were sent in!
Why get a degree in English? What made you want to finish school?
Quite honestly I got an English degree because it was easy for me. I grew up on the same street as my local library and was practically raised there, plus my mom is a grade school teacher, so she didn’t have any trouble getting me to read because it was something I really enjoyed. I dropped out of college when I was 20 to move to Athens to solely ride flat, and it was during this sabbatical that I decided an English degree was a good fit for my intellectual interests. I was particularly interested in medieval poetry and philosophy, so that’s the area I concentrated on: Chaucer, Boethius and Milton.
How are playing chess and flatland similar?
They are both extremely technical and at the highest level deceptively simple looking. I think I always liked flatland because of the technical complexities and a complicated game of chess is mentally similar to me. They’re extremely challenging and I like swimming upstream. Chess can be just as exhausting as flatland after a difficult struggle as well; the uncertainty in the middle of the struggle causes one often to find great resources you don’t know you have. The feeling of wiggling out of a hairy position is as satisfying as pulling a schwo combo you should have fallen on but didn’t.
How did you tear your scrotum riding flatland?
I learned hitchhikers before death trucks when I was in 9th grade, so my bars were quite torn up from that. My friend Jamie Holbrook came out to skate with me one afternoon and I wanted to show him that I’d learned the 2nd step of death trucks, where you do the peg wheelie then straddle the handlebars, but i couldn’t get on top of the head tube just yet. I fell forward in this position, my bike landed on it’s side and I landed right on top of the jagged end of my bars, with sweatpants on. I just remember the warmth of the blood trickling down my leg. Jamie took me home and my mom took me to the ER. Turns out I only cut the skin on my scrotum, which is quite thick so that you can get away with these things. I got 7 stitches and a hell of a love scar…
Time to wrap this up Jody! Any final shoutouts?
I’d like to thank my parents & sister for putting up w/ my strange lifestyle choices; all the members of the ATHFAM past & present: Kent Pearson, Darren Hough, Gregg Overstreet, John Davis, Josh Pontzer, Matt Potter, Scot McElwaney, Britt Brzoza, Neal Burton, Jeff Gunn, Dave Eidson, Jon Dowker, Darin Wright, Shayne Khajehnoori, Roman Wilson, Andrew Wickham and some guy named Dane. My friends in BMXland: Brian Tunney, Aaron Behnke, Andy Cooper, Scott Nagy & a shout out to the Austin crew, you guys took real good care of me last year; Chad Johnston at S&M for helping me out with some much needed stuff; Effraim for giving me this opportunity; my civilian friends Hughie, CJDub’s, Virginia, & Amanda; all my homies in Athens; Turkey the kitty and flatlanders the world over for the endless inspiration….
Thanks Jody, that was awesome catching up with you!