Photography: Tom Sevisual.
Summer holidays are over here in the UK, and that means less work for me and more time to ride, and also work on original content for the site. As you can imagine, I have a long list of people I would like to interview, and Sebastian Grubinger has been on that list for a while now.
One of the most interesting things for me is to highlight the riders that are not in the light so much as the main guns. You may say Sebastian Grubinger is on Heresy, that’s the main light. But I would argue despite this, and despite winning awards in the FM year end awards, Sebastian is still underrated.
It’s the underrated riders that nowadays interest me more, I caught up with Sebastian and we talk about a whole lot of things ranging from how he got into flatland, the Heresy brand, music, where he’s from, video parts, his feeling on small contest areas, and much more. Putting together these FM interviews is one of the most motivating things to do, and I really got a lot of going back and forth with Sebastian. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did putting it together.
Hi Sebastian, we of course have known each other for many years now. For all of those that don’t know much about you, can you introduce yourself to everyone checking this interview? How old are you, where are you from, that kind of thing?
Hi E! Alright, my name is Sebastian Grubinger. Some call me Wastl. I was born in June 83, so I turned just turned 32. I grew up in San Kt Florian (near Linz) a small village in Upper Austria. Since about 13 years, I enjoy life in Vienna.
How long have you been riding flatland, what got you into flatland?
The first time I saw BMX Flatland was at a BMX jam in Linz. I think that was 1996. I was impressed by what the guys where doing on their bikes. Later I found out that it was Mario Gruber and Michael Sommer who were riding there. From this day on I wanted to try it myself. Finally in winter 1997 my parents bought me my first BMX.
The village I grew up at was small and nobody rode BMX there. I found out about an asphalt spot next to the local Linz trails where a few flatland riders met every weekend.
So every Saturday morning I got up early and pedalled to this place. It was more than one hour pedalling. That’s how I started to ride and practice with a healthy flatland scene. Luckily Mario Gruber took me under his wings soon. He picked me up by car every day and brought me home after riding.
He’s definitely one main reasons why I got into serious riding. I’m really thankful for all this years of support and friendship.
Tell me about the Austrian flatland scene, how has it evolved since you started riding? What is like now in the modern day?
When I started riding the scene in and around Linz was really good. All riders met almost every day to ride and hang out. On weekends we went to jams or contests together or just met to spend the whole day riding.
There was also a quite good scene in Vienna that time and some people riding in Graz and Salzburg as well.
When I moved to Vienna flatland was quite big there (for a small country like Austria). The spot was packed almost every day and it always felt like a local jam. Also it was a big motivation to ride with Michael Sommer almost every day and push each other to learn new tricks.
It was cool to move from a good healthy scene into a even bigger one. Unfortunately in the past 5 years it got smaller and smaller – almost died out.
People stopped riding because of university, jobs, other sports, other interests … These days most of the time I ride alone. I sometimes session with Markus Redlberger or Erik Faustmann. I enjoy that a lot! Both still ride quite a lot.
Once in a while, on sunny weekends, some others show up on Heldenplatz, but this doesn’t happen too often.
What’s the history with your outdoor riding spot, I first remember it from the Michael Sommer videos. You never get kicked off or anything?
The spot is called Heldenplatz. It’s in the heart of Vienna and part of the Vienna Hofburg, the former imperial home and centre of the Habsburg empire. Now it’s the residence of Austria’s president including a few museums and the national library.
As you mentioned, the place got “famous” in BMX with Michael’s videos and Georg Oberlechner’s photographies in various BMX magazines.
This spot is one of a few places in the centre of Vienna with a proper floor and without security busts.
A few times a year it is used for exhibitions or events which makes it impossible to ride there for a couple days. But that doesn’t happen too often.
The past months, for example, I could only ride after 4pm. Finally the exhibit is gone and I can ride again whenever i want to.
When I moved to Vienna I didn’t ride Heldenplatz very often cause I was living a bit outside the city centre and was happy with some nice parking lots there.
Over the years Heldenplatz became the meeting point for the scene, that’s why I started to practice there more often.
Nine years ago I moved into the apartment I still live in today. Now I only pedal five minutes from my home to my spot and work only 10 minutes away. Perfect conditions!
In the winter, how is the cold weather in Vienna? I imagine a lot of snow, do you have an undercover spot you can ride?
Oh winter! Well, the past winters haven’t been too harsh. There was some snow, sometimes a lot in a short time. But it only stayed a few days and then it was gone. Also the past couple years it didn’t get too cold for a longer period.
As long as the temperature is not way below 0C and the floor is dry ( or at least not too wet) I prefer to ride outside. It works well for me. Putting on some ski underwear, pedal to the spot, ride 1,5 hours and pedal straight home.
There are also two spots under bridges where I can ride if it’s wet and not too cold. I sometimes go there as well.
If it’s too cold or it snowed I usually ride an underground parking garage. I’m rode there the past 10 years in winter. Last year a lot of skateboarders showed up almost every day.
I didn’t mind, at least I wasn’t alone in this shady place. But unfortunately they always left a big mess behind and destroyed some things and finally we got kicked out.
I really I hope I can get in there again next winter. Otherwise I don’t know where to ride…
Besides riding, what’s going in your life Sebastian? What do you do for work, lifestyle?
Alright let’s say it this way: I live in one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities with my amazing girlfriend. I have a great family and awesome friends. I work in an interesting job as social worker with the best colleagues I can imagine.
And I have time to ride almost every day. I’m thankful that I’m living a good life and I really enjoy it.
Heresy riders are well known for beautiful imagery, and this this to me would come under that label, I already looked at this photograph so much. Walkover decade at one of Sebastian’s undercover riding spots in Vienna.
It seems like Heresy really blew up in the last few years, you have like a Cult following. Your 5th of September edit won the Flatmatters Readers Awards Award for edit of the year, both you and Alexis’s riding is really suited towards video. Do you go into a project knowing exactly what you want to do? Talk me through the process it seems you guys have it so dialled!
It depends on the project. Sure I think about it first and usually also take notes. When I start filming for a DVD part I in the whole know what tricks I want to film.
It always happens that some ideas come during the filming process and also I have to accept that some tricks won’t be possible for now.
I can push myself pretty hard when filming and I always progress when I work on video parts. It’s fun though even if its frustrating and I suffer sometimes if I’m trying the same trick over and over again for hours or days…
During the filming project I start go get a better and more detailed notion of what the whole part can look like … I start looking for music and slowly everything is coming together.
You mentioned the edits with Alexis… for this videos (5th of September and Beneath) I knew exactly what tricks I wanted to film and finally got them on tape. The fact that the time to film was limited put some pressure on me but somehow I made it. Thanks to Tom and Alexis for their patience!
What can we expect from Heresy in the future?
World supremacy! Muahahaha!
No, the new products will be out very soon. We’re currently testing pegs, seats, some small parts and the new frames. Pictures and specs are already online on heresybmx.com.
More things will come for sure. Check out heresybmx.com for updates and news! Beside that you can expect a bunch of guys having fun and doing their thing on their bikes!
How involved are you in the running, designing of Heresy product? It seems a tight knit family?
Yes that’s true, we all work really close together. Everybody from the team brings in his ideas and we try to make everybody happy with the outcome.
My part at Heresy, beside riding my bike, is taking care of the online stuff. The website, Facebook and Instagram.
Beside that I sometimes work on product ideas/sketches like the 108 Pegs that will be available soon. The fact that I’m horribly bad in drawing holds me off doing this too often, haha.
But I constantly share my thoughts with Alexis and luckily some others are pretty good in bringing them to paper:-)
Your well known for your video parts. Do you find some pressure now filming, what’s your thought process going into something like that?
As I mentioned above I usually have kind of a plan what I want to do and I try to work and push myself through it.
It’s not that I find pressure because of tricks, it’s more that I set myself a goal and a deadline and at some point I have realize that it won’t work. That’s hard to accept sometimes. But going through this process always brings me further.
I want a new video part/edit to be something different to the ones before. For a lot of tricks I need some time to film – this can be frustrating.
From time to time it’s better to step back a bit, try to take it easy, ride without filming and get back on it when I feel more relaxed and motivated.
Any video projects in the works?
I had a project in mind but somehow this summer turned out different than expected and it was hard to motivate myself to film. Some shit happened, I couldn’t get my head clear for month and I realised that it won’t work for now.
I stopped filming and I’m trying to take it easy for a while.
I have a list of tricks/combos in mind (actually on my phone) for a while, I’m practicing them almost every day. This tricks might be the next project.
But I don’t know when I will finish it and maybe some other project happens before… I never know!
What kind of music are you into?
I’m not very picky. I listen to almost all kinds of music.
Lately I’ve been into Hip Hop a bit more. But there is always also some Metal and Rock on my iPod. Even some Country music.
I usually get into new music when somebody tells me about it or gives me something to listen too. I’m really easy to handle when it comes to music and open for every type of. My brother always tells me I have a horrible taste of music… He always send me dope new stuff – thanks Nic! Also Alexis always tells me about music a lot.
Do you prefer solo ️️sessions or to session with other people?
As said before years ago I used to ride a lot with others. There always were a few riders at the spot. When it was like that we sometimes practiced next to each other, sometimes jammed. That was cool and it was normal for me to be like that.
The past years the scene changed and I started to ride alone more and more often. Because of that somehow my way to practice changed and I started to progress more.
When I ride alone I take less breaks and I’m probably more focused. I’m so used to ride on my own now. If others show up at the spot now it almost irritates me and I’m not able to ride the way I usually do.
Especially when I’m filming I prefer to ride alone. In that case I can try a trick over and over for hours. I don’t want to talk or rest in between – just be focused on the link I want to get. I know that’s kind of freaky and nerdy but it works great for me.
But there are days when I hate riding alone. I enjoy to have a chill session with friends, share ideas, talk about whatever and jam together. Kind of “not so serious sessions”.
Some might notice that at contests I’m not practicing a lot… That’s because I feel a bit stressed to ride between a lot of people. But on the other hand I love it at the same time. Haha.
You travel quite a lot Sebastian, what’s been your favourite place to travel to so far, and also favourite contest to go?
Hmmm, that’s a difficult one… Since I started riding I’ve always dreamed of going to Japan. Last year I finally made it there. That was such an amazing experience! I really want to visit this country again.
Also the trip to New Caledonia, to visit Michael Husser was unreal! If you ever have the chance to go there – do it, but take care of the coconuts!
Beside that I’m a big fan of the Canary Islands. If been to a few of them already and it always has been a great time. Perfect mix of riding and chilling.
My favorite places there are Playa Santiago on La Gomera, the second smallest of the Canaries and El Cotillo, a small fishermen village in the North of Fuerteventura.
In both places you can find great spots, nice beaches and delicious food! I love it there!
One of my favorite contests is the annual Comin’ Lyon contest. Beside the nice city the scene is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s like a big family.
I made good friends there and I’m excited to go there every year! Barbar, can I book a mattress for the upcoming Comin’ Lyon weekend right now?!
Tell me about your samethingdaily3 part?
Well, when Dane came up with the idea for samethingdaily 3 I was down immediately. I started to film early, managed to collect quite a lot of stuff and felt really satisfied and happy with what I got. When the deadline came closer I worked on the editing and finished the part in time.
Then, unexpected, the deadline got moved back more than half a year. First I didn’t know what to do… Keep the part? Film more for it? It was already around 5 minutes edited.
I had a good feeling about what I had put together and decided to release it under the name “Viennese Reveries”.
Right after the filming for STD3 started again. I was super motivated and focused around that time and managed to push myself to pull my new ideas for the DVD. I’m happy how it turned out in the end.
You mentioned you like to make every part you do different, which is most satisfying video perhaps something you look back on with pride more so than the others?
That’s difficult to say… It is probably Viennese Reveries. It was the first video I filmed and edited myself.
Also I progressed a lot during the filming process. Some of the tricks I pulled in this video I never did again. Not sure if I still would be able to do them.
Also I feel that I came up with so many ideas around that time and somehow found the direction I’m going now with my riding. Let’s see where it brings me in the future.
I somehow like to look back on every edit/video because this are always good memories – beside the crashes and the mind fuck of not pulling a trick for hours. Hahaha.
Here’s kind of a personal riding question that interests me, relating to concentration and focus. Do you ride with headphones at the Heldenplatz riding spot, I imagine their regularly people walking by, distractions and so on?
I usually ride with headphones cause around my spot it can be pretty crowded and it helps me to concentrate on riding. Also music motivates me a lot. Only on weekends or in the early morning I sometimes ride without music. I enjoy the silence of the city in the morning hours. But most times I need the headphones to concentrate. Also when skateboarders are at the spot.. I love to watch them, but the noise drives me crazy when I’m trying to focus on riding. haha.
I can totally relate to that Sebastian, feel exactly the same about the noise. I have another question that might be hard to answer because I struggle with it and see other riders do also. If you had to explain flatland to someone outside of the sport, what would you say to them?
That’s a difficult one… I don’t have to explain flatland too often. When I have my bike with me I would do a trick to show what it could be.
If I have to explain I would probably say that you can do tricks on front or backwheel on a 20″ BMX. That there are infinite possibilities, no rules and that it’s freestyle – everybody can do whatever he/she wants to. Everything is allowed. And I would say that it’s fun!
That’s cool, I like to ask that question every so often, always curious as to peoples response. This has been amazing to catch up with you and learn more about you! Any final thanks Sebastian?
I want to thank my girl Simone for always standing by me and supporting me since so many years. This also goes out to my whole family who has always been and still is here for me in every situation.Big thanks to all my friends for being who you are and accepting me the way I am.
Thanks Alexis for being a good friend and supporting me since years, now with HERESY! Thanks Matt from Profile Racing! Shout outs to Preddy from Personal Records and the dudes from Motion Sports in Vienna!
Big ups to everyone who supported me the past years. Sorry not to name everybody!
Thank you E and Flatmatters for the interview and you guys who make BMX what it is! Enjoy it and have fun!
Thank you so much for taking the time for us all (the flatland world) to get to know you Sebastian. I was a big fan already, but this interview took that up a level! Respect!