Interview: James Cox

Seeing as some copies of that Antidote video have just landed up, now seemed like a timely time for a civilised chat with the tattooed mind of main-man James Cox.

Read on to hear Coxy’s thoughts on videos, riding in the 90s and the endless quest for lucid dreams.

Photos by Benson, Wozzy and perhaps some other people.

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First things first… how come the video took so long to make?

I’ve got a few excuses for why a 16 minute video took so long to make! Partly it was because a lot of the filming had to be pre-planned as everyone is quite spread out all over the place. It was also due a lot to how busy I’ve been with work.

I wanted making this video to be something fun to do in our spare time, rather than a stressful project that takes over your life. So I just sat on the footage and made the video at a nice leisurely pace. I never usually work like that so it was weird for me to be honest to do it this way. 

What happened in Paris? Didn’t you lose all your stuff? 

Yeah, we went on a trip to Paris to get some last clips for the video. On the second day we ended up at this canal where we had some food and a couple of tins. When we went to set off for the apartment, I looked down where my bag was supposed to be and it was gone. Nobody saw a thing, it’s actually pretty impressive because it was right by me. They got my Panasonic camera and the Century fisheye, my wallet, passport and to top it off, all the footage as well. I was absolutely livid.

The next day I tried to put a brave face on and decided I’d just try to enjoy riding around the city without a bag on, but after being out for barely an hour I had a ridiculous head on collision with a car so I ended up just cutting my losses and going back to London immediately in a bad mood. Despite everything that happened though I actually really enjoyed that trip. The rest of it was great.

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You work doing video stuff as a job too don’t you? Have you got any tips to do with export settings and general video faff? That stuff isn’t easy.

Ha, I guess the best tip I can give you is that whatever problem you’re having, hundreds of people out there have had exactly the same one. Get on Google. Don’t call me, I’m sick of it.

Do you think cameras matter?  

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. On one hand of course they matter, otherwise there would only ever have been one camera invented and we’d all have the same one. But on the other hand you could argue that they don’t matter at all because it’s the subject that is the most important thing in the project.

I think I’ll say yeah, I guess cameras matter a bit. Some are better for certain jobs than others.

What are your thoughts on riding videos at the minute? What other videos are you into? 

I’m not very adventurous with riding videos; I just stick to what I know. I watch Marv and Jim’s videos a lot. I think the Melon DVD has had the most time in the DVD player recently. I haven’t really seen much brand new stuff that I like recently.

If we’re talking web videos, I always like the Marie Jade edits, and obviously The Make edits because they usually contain footage of a bunch of my friends and Clarky is a genius. Plus that Fiend edit of that Johnny Raekes guy with the dreads who’s like a mark II Seth Kimborough… that was pretty good. I feel like I’m answering this question like someone’s mum…

What videos suck? 

I would love to write a big section here about all the people who’s videos I hate but I just can’t do it. I’ll tell you in person but I won’t type it. I would say Vlogs are definitely up there but I watch them more than I’d like to admit with a kind of morbid fascination, like looking at a horrendous car crash then feeling guilty for staring at it for so long afterwards.

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You used to work filming various riding videos for various companies. Did it ever become a chore?

Course it did. Obviously most of the trips and projects were really fun, but yeah a few of them were like pulling teeth. I mean I did it for about 10 years so there’s no way I could have got away with them all being a pleasure.

I think the biggest chore really ended up being having to compromise on things like music or the style of the video to fit a brand’s image rather than doing things how I wanted to do them. That’s just part of the job though I suppose — if you do anything creative for a client, you are providing an advert for them basically, not making something for yourself.

Even though I love a good moan, I feel like I can’t complain much about this because it never felt as much like work as a proper job and for the most part it was a lot of fun.

Do you find it annoying you can’t film yourself? 

I do actually. Well, I did until I moved here because Marv and Sandy are both pretty good filmers so if I ever do anything remotely worth documenting again, they’ve got me covered.

When did you start making riding videos?  

I was about 16 when I first started filming everyone riding I think. Had a Sony Hi8 thing that wouldn’t work if there was any moisture in the air.

Okay, I think that’s the video chat out the way. When did you start riding? Can you remember what set you off with it? 

I started riding in 1995. My dad bought me a Raleigh Aero for £30 out of the newspaper but I crashed it the first day and wrote it off, so I was then the proud owner of a Haro Shedder Deluxe. I got into it because I found our local trails one day in Fareham and thought it looked like a good laugh.

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Where abouts are you from? Somewhere down south? Was there much to ride down there? Who was the local hero? 

I was brought up in Fareham which is basically a little commuter town stuck on the side of Portsmouth, which is an overly congested closed minded naval city on the South Coast. There was actually loads to ride — we were pretty lucky with that. The local hero in Fareham when I was growing up was a maniacal Christian called Isaac Clark. I actually think you might know him?

Not sure if I know Isaac Clark. What did he keep in his ‘trick bag’? He still ride?

He does still ride yeah, he lives in Vietnam now and I still hear from him from time to time. He was incredibly loose but could do huge truckdrivers over ‘the big set’ at the woods. He used to ride with a little metal crucifix under his tongue and had a self-modified version of the Bible that he’d carry around everywhere. He was a right character. 

Do you think riding has changed since you first started?  

I’d say it’s changed to the extent that to me it’s almost unrecognisable from the version that I got into outside of our little community.

What was an average riding day like in the late 90s?

Up early, big skatepark session, meet up with everyone, miss my back peg on a few handrails, barspin off a roof, dinner from a newsagents then eight pints in a rock club.

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And what’s an average riding day like now?

Out by mid-day, ride 20 miles to not be able to do anything on a tight bank to wall, watch Marv being the best still, veggie samosa, bad back, drink a can at home watching TV.

What are your thoughts on the current mid-school revival frame collector/VHS hoarder scene?

I guess it’s good to have a bit of nostalgia for the old days, as long as you don’t try to exist there in some sort of protest against a scene progressing without you. I have a few old videos that I drag out from time to time, but that’s about it.

In a Desert Island Discs type scenario (curb island discs?) – what riding videos would you want with you if you were stuck for the rest of your life on the dingy patched-up ‘chill out’ sofa of a BMX shop? 

Off the top of my head I’d probably have the Blueprint video, S&M BMX Inferno, NSF2, Grey Haven and Standard Procedure. Does that actually make me a VHS hoarder after all?

Quite possibly. Moving on, what are the most barspins you’ve done in a single day? You ever tried a triple-barspin? 

I don’t have a clue. I have pulled a handful of triples but for the most part I would catch them at two and a half.

What happened to Odessa shoes? 

Fucks sake, without doubt the worst shoes I’ve ever put on. I don’t know what happened to them. I feel a large amount of shame for riding in those. We did get a nice trip to Barcelona out of them though. What can I say, I was young.

Moving on, I remember you telling me once about someone you worked with who had lucid dreams and got to the point where they lived a second life in their dreams. Can you elaborate on this? 

You’ve pretty much explained it right there. He would get excited for the evening so that he could go and exist in his parallel work he created where he could fly and breathe underwater. It was basically his hobby being mint at dreaming.

Have you ever had a lucid dream? 

I actually tried for a really long time to train myself how to do it but it never worked. Then one day I was on a trip in Malaga and had two shots of that really strong absinthe before bed and got fully locked into one. So if you want to see what it’s like, just do that and save yourself the bother of trying to learn how to do it.

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I know you’re interested in freemasons and that sort of thing. I don’t know much about them to be honest. Can you explain what’s interesting about them? 

I think it’s a few things. Firstly I like the huge amount of symbology they use, keeping secrets in plain sight. Everything means something. Plus I think it all just looks really interesting. I also like learning about any societies that have any element of secrecy and mysticism involved in their foundations. I’m sure that for 99.9% of the Masonic community it’s very mundane, but I like reading about plans made by the shadowy elite at the top of the power pyramid behind closed doors, whether it’s true or not it’s quite fascinating.  

What about aliens? Do you reckon they exist? 

I think the probability of there being intelligent life out there somewhere in the universe is pretty high, but whether they’ve had contact with us as a species before is another thing altogether. It’s another subject I read a lot about — there’s some absolutely bizarre claims out there. I think the folklore of UFO sightings and alien contact are predominantly perpetuated by the military, and has been since the 1950s. It’s a great explanation to give if any secret advanced military aircraft ever gets spotted by the public.

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Are there many conspiracy theories in riding? Was the phase out of the Spanish bottom bracket instigated by the New World Order? 

Ha, I don’t think there are any conspiracy theories in BMX. Maybe we should start some. Have you heard the rumour that Matt Hoffman is a shape-shifting reptilian who lives inside the moon, which is actually a hollowed out dragon’s egg?

I don’t agree that the Spanish BB is connected to the rise of the NWO whatsoever. I think a more likely explanation is that it was brought back from the Zeta Reticuli star system during the Project Serpo interplanetary exchange program that took place in 1965. It took a further three decades to adapt it for our environment here on Earth. It just didn’t work out in the long run.

Why do you think riders and skaters are often drawn to conspiracy theories and stuff? 

Maybe because BMX and skateboarding can tend to attract people who are looking to make the monotony of everyday life a bit more exciting.

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Any wise words you’d like to pass on?

I don’t have any wise words I’m afraid, but thanks for the interview, and thanks to everyone who continues to support Antidote, I’m glad people like it because I really enjoy doing it.

Get the Antidote video here.

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