Interview: Andrew Mick

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Even in today’s world of instant information, mysteries still exist. Did Brendan Watson go to school? Why was Lou Rajsich wearing a cape? And, perhaps most intriguingly, who is Andrew Mick?

No magazine coverage and only a few minutes of video footage — yet a thousand handrails across America still bear the marks of his advanced-level peggery.

With little information on this enigmatic figure, the Central Library set out to find out more…

Hangover tooth photo taken outside the Baltimore Orioles baseball stadium by Bryan Vana. 2017.

Alright Andrew, to be honest I don’t know much about you apart from a few videos I’ve seen. How did you get in to riding?

There were a lot of people in my hometown that were riding when I was a kid. The local bike shop, Pedal Pushers, was pretty BMX oriented, so I think that had a lot to do with it. My friend Peter Squicciarini who lived across the street from me got a Mongoose villain in the summer of 1996 and I got my first BMX the Christmas of that year.

I got a flat riding it home from the bike shop so I took it back and ask them if they could fix it for free since I just bought it. They told me to stop casing curbs and made me paid for the tube.

Do you remember what the first bike you got was? And when did you ‘get good’, if you get what I mean?

It was a Robinson Rebel. I got hit by a car riding my bike I think in 98 and broke my femur. When I got back on my bike I was just riding every day all day. I remember that’s when I started to realize I was getting better.

Do you remember the first rail you did?

Yes, the handrail at the entrance of Old Mill high school in Millersville Md. I was with my friend Jamie Atienza and I keep riding up to it but was too scared to do it. He had to go into the school because his girlfriend’s gymnastics tournament was about to start, so I just kept riding up to it by myself.

It had to of been four hours later when I finally jumped onto it and just leaned over and fell into the grass, then ran into the school to tell Ati about it. I went back a few months later and pulled it. I think I was 14.

am-1

Barspin in Baltimore, 2015. Photo by Jamie Atienza.

Am I right in saying you’re from Baltimore? What’s it like there? In my head it’s fairly similar to Boston or Philadelphia or something.

I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore called Severna Park. I’ve been living in the city pretty much since my family moved from there. I couldn’t say much about Boston but I would say it’s very much like Philadelphia. Baltimore is very poor and segregated.

Is The Wire a realistic representation?

It is to a degree, I would say it’s pretty sugar-coated though.

Who were the riders round there growing up? Are there any videos from there or anything?

There were a ton of people riding here in the late 90s and early 2000s. I couldn’t even list them all.  There was a local website Charm City Bikes that this dude Josh Keogh ran. He actually made three videos that were awesome to have and watch when I was younger.

Also my buddy Jamie Kelly made a video called Diverst in 2004 which I would love to have if anyone has a copy that works.  I don’t think the videos got much attention outside of this area.

How come you don’t see much from Baltimore compared to Philadelphia and other east coast cities?

Philly is much larger population wise. There is not much of a BMX scene in Baltimore, although there are a handful of people that are pretty dedicated to it.

Are there many spots there?

There are a lot of good spots all over the city — definitely a lot of undiscovered things. There are a few neighbourhoods that I’ve never even explored.  There’s a good bit of school yard and old water fountain type of spots. A lot of stuff around the outskirts of the city also.  I’ve never been the best spot searcher really.

am-2Toothpick, 2016. Photo by Jamie Atienza.

Who do you ride with these days? You get over to New York or anything much?

I used to ride with Ryan Lamont and Albie Bennett a lot before they moved to Austin. My friend Ian Burke, who is a sick skateboarder, also rides. Also my friend I grew up riding with, Jamie Atienza, lives in the city and comes out a decent bit. I ride with a lot of skateboarders. I mostly just show up at one of the skateparks and just ride with whoever is there.

I get up to New York pretty frequently, when I’m up there I try to ride with Joey Piazza and Mark Gralla if he’s in town.

Considering you’re a pretty mad rider, I don’t remember seeing you in magazines and stuff. Did you avoid the coverage, or was it just how things panned out?

I’ve never had a photo in a magazine. It would of been cool to get more coverage but I never really travelled too much until more recently.

am-6Over-duster at the Brooklyn Banks, 2007. Photo by Travis Splain.

What’s going on in the picture above? Can you give us a detailed run down of that day? What was going through your head? Have you done that move since?

Haha, I know we drove up to NYC for the banks jam that morning. I was just amped to be riding there — the banks were always such an iconic spot. I had a picture of a skateboarder doing a grind on that rail on my bedroom wall. I used to always look at that pic and dream about that rail. When Vic over-grinded it in the first Animal video I always thought it was so insane but when I finally saw it in person it was so much less intimidating.

So one year before at the 2006 banks jam I did an over-grind on it and also did an over-tooth and an over-ice. At the time I was pretty fearless with the Derek dusters and I just thought it would be amazing to over-duster it.

I pretty much thought about it for a year and when I was back there for the ‘07 jam I over-grinded it once and I knew I could do it. First and only time I’ve done it. I would love to do it again clean, but only on that rail.

You’ve done some fairly prog moves in your time. Was it a conscious thing to try and do new stuff, or was that just stuff you ended up doing?

I think when I was younger it was. I wouldn’t say my riding is very innovative nowadays. I just try to have fun and not fall.

Have you got any tips for maintaining confidence and mental wellbeing on handrails?

You’ve got to be able to see it in your head. If you can’t see yourself going off the end of it you probably shouldn’t jump on the beginning of it.

That makes sense. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done on a bike?

Run from the police.

am5Baltimore, 2017. Photo by Willy Stackus. 

Do you think riding has changed since you started? Has it changed?

It’s definitely changed. Bikes are different, styles are different and spots are different. It seems like nowadays people ride for different reasons, or just got into it in a completely different way. I don’t know how to really explain it — the world is a lot different to how it was 20 years ago.

It seems like these days a lot of people are talking about ‘the good old days’. Was there a golden era?

I don’t really know. I’ve had a lot of really great times riding 10 or 15 years ago, but I also had some of the best times in my life riding last summer. Riding has changed a lot but I think it’s going in a good direction. It hasn’t almost completely fizzled out like rollerblading pretty much has.  So yeah, there may have been a golden era but I know I wouldn’t want to ride one of the bikes from that era.

Going on from what you said there, what are your thoughts on this mid-school revival thing that seems to be big at the moment?

Well, I really only said that because I was riding old bikes up until 2015.  I was riding an American bottom bracket T1 Barcode. I wouldn’t ride mid bottom-bracket because Profile SS oversized cranks wouldn’t fit with them. It was stupid; it was just me being stuck in the past. Getting a mid BB frame was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself riding wise.

Haha yeah some bits are best being left behind. I only got one of those pivotal seat things last week. What do you think about social media and stuff?

I like it. I used to always think about how there are so many amazing bike riders all over the world and no one outside of their town may know about them. Now that window is pretty much open, but it goes both ways. I also get so burnt out on BMX video edits because there are so many of them.

Do you ever think riding gets in the way of ‘normal life’? 

It definitely can, and did a lot when I was younger. Nowadays it’s a lot easier for me to focus on my career and do things that I have to do to get by, and keep riding separate. I think that I’ve found a pretty good balance.

You said somewhere in an e-mail that you started riding when you were 9. That’s a fair stint. You ever taken a break from riding or anything?

I had some knee problems that had me on and off my bike a lot around ‘09 to ‘11. I had ACL surgery about eight months after actually tearing it.  When I was recovering I partially tore the new one (not riding) about five months after surgery.  I wasn’t able to get surgery again for about eight months or maybe more, so I was just riding a little bit and taking it really easy.

After having my second surgery I took my doctor’s advice, which was to not ride for at least a year. I actually filmed a clip of a barspin over an alleyway gap that I had done a few years before but never filmed, then rode all day with Travis and Albie the day before my surgery. It was pretty surreal doing all that knowing that the next day I wasn’t going to ride for at least a year.

Prior to getting hurt the first time I was in a very poor mental state. I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. I was even in a few psych wards at one point.  After getting hurt and everything I went through it was a big reality check. It really made me slow down, to stop thinking so in the moment and really appreciate what I have.

am-4Baltimore wall-carve, 2017. Photo by Willy Stackus. 

What riders are you into? Do you watch videos or anything?

There’s a ton. Growing up Van Homan, Bucher, Troy McMurray, Joe Rich and Brian Foster had a big impact on me. Nowadays there’s a lot. Chris Carter I think is really sick, and I always get hyped seeing the Bonedeth dudes, probably because they’re my buddy’s. I watch a lot of BMX and skateboarding videos on DVD.

Pretty basic question this, but what are your top three video parts?

Van Homan’s Criminal Mischief part IS the best video part of all time. After that in my opinion Sean Burns in Anthem II is the best video part made since. I’ve actually personally told him that.  The third one for me would definitely be Bucher in ECD4. That and Van’s part have always been my two favourites.

What skateboard videos are you into?                  

I like the local videos a lot, east coast stuff more for sure. I usually just go into the skate shop and ask what’s good.

On a different subject, you do some pretty mad stuff in that Rotten video. You ever think about wearing a leather waistcoat or anything to fit in?

I don’t think I could pull that off. I do want a pair of white pants though.

What do you get up to outside of riding? What do you do for work?

I’m a HVAC service mechanic. I’ve been doing that since I was in high school. I take a lot of film photography and do a lot of writing witch also occupies a lot of my time.

What’s HVAC? Something to do with air conditioning? Maybe sounds a bit weird but I’m always interested in people’s jobs. What’s a normal day like being a HVAC service engineer?

Yeah I do commercial heating and air-conditioning. Most days I’m going on service calls to different businesses or condominium buildings in and around Washington DC. It’s always different. Some days I’m on a roof top all day, or in a boiler room.  When it’s real hot or cold out I’m usually going from service call to service call for no heat or no AC.

am-3Barspin over a slab or Portland concrete, 2016. Photo by Jamie Atienza.

Do the people you work with know you ride?

Yeah they know. My boss gets a kick out of it.

What music are you into? Seen any good films lately?

I grew up listening to mostly hip hop, but since moving to the city I got into a lot more metal and punk type of music. I listen to all kinds of music nowadays. Movies… Mean Streets and The Deer Hunter are two of my favourites, although I did just watch The Bicycle Thief, and that’s the best movie I’ve ever seen.

I liked that Micks Tape thing you made fairly recently. Any more plans for videos or anything any time soon?

Thanks man, I was really surprised how much positive feedback I got from that. I recently bought a camera from a friend and have been filming a bit. I would definitely like to make a video, but I have a ways to go.

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Anything else you’d like to add? Anyone you want to mention or any wise words you’d like to throw out there?  

I have a lot of really good friends and family who have helped me and really been there for me. I don’t want to mention names because I don’t want to leave anyone out but am very grateful for all of them. Also thank you for asking me to do this interview. Peace.

2 thoughts on “Interview: Andrew Mick

  1. Pingback: Andrew Mick CentralLibrary Interview - The Come Up BMX

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