Grant Castelluzzo Interview

Cover photo: Phil Arellano.

DA: How long have you been straight edge?

I guess I made the conscious decision to abstain from drugs and alcohol when I was 14 years old. I had always steered away from things of that nature but that is when I discovered straight edge and when I gravitated towards it.

“I already wasn’t into the idea of drugs and alcohol in general and finding straight edge sort of solidified those beliefs if that makes any sense. “

DA: What were the reasons for choosing the sXe avenue?

Honestly it fit what I was already doing. I already wasn’t into the idea of drugs and alcohol in general and finding straight edge sort of solidified those beliefs if that makes any sense. I don’t really have any one particular reason it just made sense. seems weird making a decision like that at such a young age but I guess I just knew myself well enough to know I wasn’t interested.

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Photo: Alex Auerbach

“Most of my friends figured it out pretty quickly and let me do my own thing which was always appreciated.”

DA: Growing up being straight edge, were you hassled much because of it? Or any peer pressure?

I wouldn’t say I was hassled to much. Maybe a few times here or there but nothing too serious. There was peer pressure from time to time but since I had already made up my mind there was no changing it and once people figured that out they kind of stopped asking. Most of my friends figured it out pretty quickly and let me do my own thing which was always appreciated.

DA: Do you think where you grew up had an influence in your lifestyle choices?

I think that BMX in general did. I probably wouldn’t have started drinking or anything like that regardless but through BMX I found out about straight edge and since it was in line with my feelings on the matter already it just seemed to speak to me. I remember that the first person who really told me about straight edge was Greg Dickson. He was/is this huge shit talker and one of the loudest guys at the skatepark. He had the stickers on his helmet and bike so I ended up discovering it through him I guess. I don’t think it has much to do with where I grew up as opposed to the time I grew up in. Lots of riders at the time were straight edge so I would have ended up finding out about it via bmx sooner or later I am sure.

DA: We just spoke to Greg Dickson the the other day, I wonder if he knows that? Speaking of that era and area, I know you and Mike Hinkens have been very close over the years. And I’m sure those years on the road (and living together) have produced some deep conversations. How has he influenced you over the years?

Honestly Mike Hinkens was and is a Midwest street legend. I didn’t meet him until way after I was already straight edge so his views on the matter really never effected me. the fact that we both feel similarly about the subject kind of made it so we didn’t have to many conversations about it. Honestly have had way more conversations about it with other people who are not straight edge. He lived about an hour away from where I grew up and I would always see clips of him in props. When I moved to Milwaukee I started riding with kids who were friends with him and over time we started riding together a ton. We are fairly like minded individuals in many ways so our friendship just worked. His influence on me is probably more than I can explain. He is the reason I started riding mostly street. He almost never went to the skatepark and always was trying to get people to ride street we got along super well so I just wanted to ride with him and that meant riding street. Before riding with Mike I was mostly into riding ramps. Obviously I rode a little of everything but riding with him so was so fun and the search became such an important part of riding. He opened my eyes to spot searching and riding what was in front of you.

“I definitely have a respect for hardcore and can really get behind the ethos”

DA: sXe tends to have hardcore roots, what type of music are you into?

I am all over the board with that one. I listen to lots of different stuff. Indie, pop punk, hip hop, it all depends on my mood and it goes in phases. I definitely have a respect for hardcore and can really get behind the ethos. I think that editing has sort of expanded my horizons.

I think most of us can empathize with that. Setting, riders, and aesthetic play such an important role in what you choose for music. After all, you have to listen to it over and over for three hours when in the process. Is there anything you’ve used when editing that you wouldn’t have expected to be into/have gotten into?

“I will often end up disliking the actual song I have used but getting hyped on the artist”

That happens all the time. I will often end up disliking the actual song I have used but getting hyped on the artist. A few of the more recent ones are the Budos Band, Monophonics, and Halsey are probably the last couple of artists I ended up getting into after editing to one of their songs. I think its one of the best ways for me to get into new music.

DA: I’m assuming the move to Cali from the mid west was a bit of a culture shock. Has the way you look at things changed (in general?) due to the move?

It would have been a culture shock if I didn’t travel as much as I do. Part of what drew me to California is how different it is than Milwaukee. Lots of likeminded people along with the weather are the two main reasons. I don’t think that I look at things too differently. Bmx related things have started to become more of my job and I am doing my best to handle that accordingly but I use the job loosely because it still doesn’t really feel much like a job. I try to not take the good weather for granted and I try to ride as much as humanly possible. I sometimes am the only person who wants to go out and ride because it rained in the morning but being the from Midwest we rode in some shitty weather so I am accustomed to getting by. Even the bad weather here isn’t bad at all.

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Photo: Doeby

DA: With the idea of having to make something happen out of nothing in the midwest: does that play into riding spots that others might normally pass up?

It tends to happen fairly regularly. Being from the midwest and not having many good ledge spots makes me want to ride every ledge that I see. Ha. Most of the people out here are a little spoiled by having so many good spots that they tend to pass ones that are less than perfect up which is fine by me! It probably gets annoying if you ride with me though because I am down to ride whatever and it might slow down the session ha.

DA: And who are those riders’ you’re most stoked to normally link up with? I see you always seem to be rolling with a different crew depending on the day…what, by riding with them, gets you motivated?

Everyday is a different one out here it seems. Recently I have been riding with Dan Kruk a whole bunch since he moved out here. Its nice having a Milwaukee homie in town. My good friend growing up, Sean Morr, has been living here for years now so coming out here I knew I would be riding with him regularly. It feels like I am a kid again because he is one of the people I grew up riding with. I also always have amazing sessions when riding with another midwest transplant, Taylor Thompson, he lives about an hour away so it doesn’t always happen but when the sessions do happen we feed off each other and end up learning new tricks which is always the most fun.

“I don’t want everyday to be planned out. That’s why BMX is the best. You never know what you are going to get into.”

DA: How important is a daily regimen for you?

It used to not be important at all to me at all and over all it still isn’t but there are a few things I like to do when I first wake up that are a routine I suppose. I really like to start my day with coffee and something light to eat. That’s when I watch a little tv or these days start looking for content to update the Ride site with. After that anything is a fair game. I don’t want everyday to be planned out. That’s why BMX is the best. You never know what you are going to get into. Whether it be filming, going riding, or being filmed it is all good to me and it’s exactly what I want to be doing. I also recently started working for an event photography company so that job is also unpredictable and sporadic. I am never bored and for that I am incredibly thankful.

DA: Your top three favourite BMX videographers historically and top three contemporarily? 

Historically I would have to say Joe Simon, Terrell Gordy, and Stew Johnson . These guys by no means are done filming but their work is either not in BMX anymore or not as frequent as it once was. I looked up to their work growing up and still watch their work regularly today. As for the top three currently I would have to say Navaz is number one. I have looked up to his work since Left/right and still don’t believe that anyone has made a more enjoyable video to watch than “Talk Is Cheap” to this day. As his gear changes he is always on point and is ever adapting his style and progressing his work. Not to mention he has helped me out personally with gear questions and all sorts of stuff over the years. Number 2 would have to be Mike Mastroni. Every video he puts out is always one I watch time and time again. He is always experimenting with different techniques and not many people are as on point with the fisheye as Mike. Number 3 is challenging since I have so much respect for everyone in the game right now but I would have to say Doeby. He is a blast to work with and he has made some absolutely incredible videos over the years. Its weird to think that he is super young and filming some of the top dudes at such a high level. I couldn’t go with out mentioning Tony Ennis, Veesh, and Tony Malouf as well. I know its cheating but I seriously have so much respect for all these guys that I couldn’t leave them out. Thank you all for inspiring me in one way or another.

DA: What, currently, gets you most stoked on BMX?

Filming. Every aspect of it. Whether it be me filming others or myself being filmed it’s all incredibly motivating. I love watching what other people have created. Nothing gets me more stoked than videos. The quality BMX content truly stands out these days that’s for sure!

Follow Grant on Instagram here.

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