Mike McQueen Interview

DA: On the outskirts on Winston Salem, North Carolina…how did you find yourself into SXE?

I grew up in a very rural part of NC, a half hour from Winston Salem and a little further from Greensboro, so there were a few kids in school that had a little bit of punk culture, definitely more on the outcast side of the general population of a dying tobacco farming community of good ol’ boys. But sitting on the bus one day after school my friend Early, who was pretty heavily into punk and ska, says to me, “so you’re pretty much a straight edge huh?” And of course I asked him what this was. At the time, I hadn’t really thought about it, but yea, I was. I had lost my dad to cancer and some other ailments a few years earlier so that pushed me more into a cleaner lifestyle. I was just getting into BMX and that pretty much consumed my free time. When everyone would be drinking in the parking lot, I would be stunt’n curbs and learning how to manual. From there I got introduced into the hardcore scene from some of the skaters in the area and exposed to even more of the straight edge lifestyle and scene. So when everyone is getting their drivers license and getting to go party, I’m going to ride my bike and go to hardcore shows.

DA: And how does that choice effect you now in your professional life? It’s probably hard to tell Paula Dean you can’t taste test her bourbon infused chicken crispers?

Ha! That’s a good one. And yup, you’re right. I would politely decline Paula’s bourbon infused chicken crispers. The vegetarian part of me makes that one easy. But on a shoot at her house once, she did make me a grilled cheese sandwich because all we had was BBQ for lunch. Yes, butter was used and yes, it was a good sammich.

DA: Speaking of which, the Mangler Mixer…it’s truly incredible what you got yourself into. Enlighten us.

Yea, so I kind of came up in BMX grinding handrails, manualing, doing 1 footed x-ups and filming. The filming led me to getting into more higher productions both inside and outside of BMX. While working on an eastern bikes web edit in philly, Seamus McKeon and Adam Banton started referring to me as Mangler Vision. At that time I was transitioning into more of a freelance role focusing on my sound mixing career so I just changed it to Mangler Mixer and then incorporated it to be a legit business. Thus Mangler Mixer, Inc was born, thanks again to BMX.

DA: “The Mangler.” Your bmx nickname and now the title to your business. How did that come about?

I’m gonna refer to Chris Doyle to tell this one, as for probably 3 years, I never knew I had this nickname.

“We always rolled with a pretty tight posse back in the day. Our crew out at the 401 trails in Raleigh always consisted of interesting characters, one of them being a guy by name of Bradley Pate. Bradley was from Benson, NC, he drove a big truck, and he was a redneck… and proud of it! Being from the south, Bradley had the thickest southern accent you’ve ever heard.  Also, he loved using certain words to replace other common words… for example, he called manuals “mangles”.  He would say things like, “hey man, go try to mangle that ledge”.  So… Mike Mcqueen and his posse from the Winston-Salem area would occasionally come and ride with us and no matter where we were; the skatepark, street, trails, etc… Mcqueen would be manualing.  And, for the life of us, we could never remember his damn name.  One day we were sitting around talking and we were like, ‘who’s that tall skinny dude that’s always manualing?’.  Bradley spoke up and said something like,

‘Da fuckin’ mangler!  That dude is always mangling!’.  So, naturally, every time we saw Mike, we would say, ‘Da Mangler’s here!’.   I can’t believe that name has stuck and I find it hilarious that someone who is so harmless looking has such a gnarly nickname.”

-Chris Doyle

DA: I can’t believe I never knew that, Ha! was this about the time you’d moved to Greensboro? And the Rotation house? How did you remain SXE there? That place was pure chaos.

Yea I spent the first year or so in a historically black college in Greensboro (NC A&T) living close to campus in the hood. My apartment got broken into a few times so I decided it was time to move. Luckily at that time there was a spot open with Justin Holt at the soon to be named “Rotation House”. Brad “Puck” Byrne also moved down from VA to join the chaos as well. The house def had its moments, but everyone knew where I stood when it came to drinking and drugs. Of course they’d talk shit but I’d pound my 40 oz of IBC root beer and stay rowdier than them.

DA: Within all your, almost historic, mid school bmx video projects, which ones were your favorite to work on?

Of course Dirty South was my baby. Brad “Puck” Byrne, Justin Holt and myself put that one out around 2001 for Justin’s clothing company Rotation. And then of course Props was a huge deal for me. Red Bull was holding a flatland contest called Circle of Balance in Germany in a gasometer and for some reason Marco decided I should go. I had never shot flatland before at that level but I was really excited to be on that project, but very nervous at the same time. The icing on that cake was after the contest was over I went on a road trip around Germany, Czech and Switzerland with our friends at Country Bikes.

DA: Crazy, seems like yesterday…do you miss the direct connect to bmx or do you feel it’s just evolved into what you do riding MTB? Your pics and vids on IG looks like you go in head first…

Thanks! Glad you’re stoked on my stoke! I’m always keeping my finger close to the pulse of BMX. It’s so ingrained in how my mind works that I can’t stop. But I’m so psyched on riding mountain bikes now. In the last few years of me riding a 20″, I’d ride 3 hours and have back pain for 3 days. Now I ride my mountain bike for 3 days and have back pain for 3 hours. But there’s so many mid school and old school bmxers that have stepped onto the big wheels. It’s hard not to enjoy it. It took me awhile to get the physical shape needed to enjoy the bigger and harder rides but it’s great. I still miss riding a good mini ramp tho…

DA: Most underrated rider to come out of the dirty south?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. There’s probably different era’s of underrated dirty south shredders, but for me, I’m gonna say my dude Neil Craver. He and I split a part in Dirty South and he had some clips in other videos but never really got any major BMX media coverage unfortunately. But he’s moved on and you can see him on American Ninja warrior as “Crazy Craver”. He’s a bad ass in all the ways.

DA: Ha, I saw that! I also recently re-watched his clip riding into that tree in an old Eastern Video. Basically, hauling ass up the trunk and then sitting on a branch, then dropping back in. And you, you were one of the first handrail bosses I’d ever met. Fearless, and nothing too big.

Biggest one handled? Scariest one? Any brutal falls in attempt?

Dude I’ve been pretty lucky with handrails. I guess with my giant long legs it made it easy for me to step off. It’s hard to remember a biggest, maybe 23 stairs? So interesting that you bring up handrails. This year is the 20 year anniversary of me doing my first handrail. A pretty chill 6 stair at UNC. I’ve been thinking hard about going back there and doing it again. It’s been probably 10 years or more since I’ve jumped on one so I need to start training! Side note: I went to a prayer for cleansing / bloodlet show afterwards.

DA: Of all the places you’ve travelled, where were the highlights for A. Work B. Riding?

Anytime I get to travel abroad, that’s a great experience. Years prior I pretty much only travelled for work but a few years ago I decided that was a bad idea and just let loose. Work trips can be challenging. Yea I’m in a cool city but I usually go from airport, to hotel, then set up for work for about 10-12 hours, dinner, hotel and do it all over again. So it can look cool on social media but it’s still work. The beauty is when I can do a work trip and then extend my trip afterwards to play. I did a trip to France back in 2015 to do a reality show with some rich kids and then I stayed over a few days longer. It was rad. I rented a car and a bike and drove up into the alps and slept in a hammock by a lake. That doesn’t suck.

Riding trip domestic wise, team pimpske trips are without a doubt some of the best trips ever. How can you go wrong with packing a dozen friends in a moving truck and hitting the road?

But going forward in life I’ve decided to visit 2 new countries a year. Either work or fun wise. This past fall I booked a trip to Hong Kong just cause. I found a few guys on social media, packed my bike and hit the skies. It was a hell of a solo trip. But I made a lot of new friends and popped a lot of wheelies.

DA: Incredible. You’re truly living the dream…it seems the punk/bmx lifestyle has just translated into another era for you. Same ethos, just an extension of those, now, more adult experiences. But I do have to ask, how did you survive those Pimpske trips? Actually, tell us about pimpske….

I swear man, all of us had a good luck charm of some sorts on that trip. Pimpske was born out of the idea of doing a road trip with as many friends as possible for as cheap as possible. Rent a moving van, load up, have fun. We did 5 trips, each one crazier than the last. We got kicked out of 3 townships, most notably was the Chenga world incident where we pulled into the parking lot with fireworks a blazin’. The cops were so confused by us. We had been in the van around 10 hours and it was already a mess. The cops thought we had been living in it for days. It smelled like camp fire, well, cause the boys got cold on the way up and started a camp fire. Yes, in the back of the van… I had a 40 oz of IBC root beer in the cup holder in center console, the cop lost it on me, of course he thought it was beer. Dude literally threw it out of the van onto the ground. He thought he had his ticket to arresting me. He said, “drinking and driving, with passengers in the back? What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You are literally driving in my town with a 40 of beer open in your cup holder!?” Threw it out of the van, of course it broke but the label was face up and I just pointed and replied, “officer, that’s just soda”. He shot out of that van, all up in my face and says, “clean that shit up and get the fuck out of my town!”. So I hid the van down the street. The next day we snuck back to Chenga and I got the van stuck in a field behind the skatepark which was viewing distance from the police department. The boys keep wanting to do another trip, which I’m down for, but I’m not putting my name on that van. It’s my turn to get loose.

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