SHAJBA: Yo! Where are you? At ROG?
PUNX: No, I am at home. I had to take care of a few things here.
SHAJBA: Will this be your first „Interview“?
SHAJBA: Great! Then let´s start off with some basic questions; How did you start riding BMX? Had there been a scene in Logatec before you started?
PUNX: Ah man, this is going to take a while (laugh).
SHAJBA: I´ve got time...
PUNX: OK. Basically, a friend of mine from school, Rižot, and his brother were riding BMX at that time. That was back in 2002. They were already doing some crazy tricks and I remember seeing them ride for the first time, I was blown away. They already had proper GT bikes and everything. After that I joined them on my ROG BMX (laugh).
SHAJBA: What happened to them? Are they still riding? Are you still friends with them?
PUNX: Rižot was a bike guy in general. He was riding from DH to Cross Country and was also competing. His career ended with a bad knee injury. Otherwise, I am still in touch with him. He has also visited me not so long ago at ROG and I showed him around a bit. I don´t know what happened to his brother though.
SHAJBA: How did you get involved with the punk scene? Was punk a popular thing in your region?
PUNX: I have somehow always been prone to barking and grunting (laugh). Punk as such was not very popular in my area. There were 3 guys who perhaps stood out and were active in the scene…I would say I was mostly influenced by various skate and motocross movies of that era like Baker Bootleg, Black Label Blackout, Crusty Demons etc.
SHAJBA: It´s obvious that your passion for punk has also translated into your riding style. One of the things that come to my mind is that you don´t give a shit; you filmed numerous lines in two different boots for the DVD “Look mama I´m flying”, rode a BMX contest in punk boots and I believe that every BMX video part of yours had a punk song in it.
PUNX: (Laugh) Anderj Zigon (Luni) and his Video “Goat Fuck” are the ones who influenced my style the most. He also edited my first BMX edit, Bmxxx. It was all about full speed, big gaps, loud music and in addition some footage of us doing weird shit to top it all off (laugh). I´ve kind of kept the same style of riding until this day.
SHAJBA: Totally. It´s also always awesome to see you blast tricks over a box jump, but you never put any of those tricks into your edits. Why is that?
PUNX: There are certain tricks, which I only do when I am riding alone or when I am in the mood for them. I will have some dirt clips in my new edit though, but first I actually have to learn how to ride dirt jumps (laugh).
SHAJBA: Are you talking about Divjina Trails?
PUNX: No, I think I am going to film at Nik´s place in Trnovo (Ljubljana). I haven´t been in Trzic for almost 10 years now.
SHAJBA: I have to say I am extremely looking forward to your new edit. Besides the crazy clips you´ve showed me, I still cannot wrap my head around what happened the other day in LJ. We were riding street in LJ and although you did one of the sickest lines I have ever seen, you refused to use the clip in your edit. You were not satisfied with it. What the fuck are you planning to put in your video?
PUNX: Well, I was happy with that line, don´t get me wrong, but I believe I could do something better on that set-up. Besides, that trick was not on my list.
SHAJBA: What list?
PUNX: A few years back I made a list of all the tricks I would like to do and I have not changed it since. There are some “signature” moves, big rails and gaps. I hope I will get them all before I give up (laugh).
SHAJBA: (Laugh) Wow, ok. So you are a part of the List Gang. One of the infamous members is also our good friend Mataj. He actually made a whole table in Excel with some mega features.
SHAJBA: OK, let´s delve into your riding style a bit more. You are the first one I saw doing a Crankflip-barspin. You are also known as a Rocket-Manual king. Who were the riders that influenced your style the most? Was Karl Poynter one of them?
PUNX: No, Karl Erjavec has not contributed much (Laugh).
SHAJBA: Who then?
PUNX: My style of riding is a mixture of different riding styles. Top 10 riders: Butcher, Will Toubin, Gonz, Mike Tag, Ruben Alcantara, Paul Buchanan, Ratboy, Mat Hoffman, Jeff Harington, Ryan Nyquist and Van Homan, of course.
SHAJBA: Aha, I can see some Butcher and Will Toubin in there, yeah.
PUNX: Those two were one of the first ones where I said: “What.. the.. fuck?!”.
SHAJBA: Yeah, ratty style par excellence. Which videos get you hyped to go out riding?
PUNX: My all time classic is definitely “Props: Best Year End 2001”. This was one of the first movies I bought on VHS and it has remained my favorite video until today. From younger generation I like two Australian riders, Callan Stibards and the rail clip from Liam Zingerbergs in the BSD “Transmission”.
SHAJBA: What do you mean by “the rail clip”? You only liked his one clip?
PUNX: Yeah, only that one clip gets my hyped, the rest not that much.
SHAJBA: (Laugh) I haven´t heard something like that before.
PUNX: Oh, and Emil Bouwman! That guy is the best! You need to meet this guy in person! He´s a legend! I was laughing all the time while I was around him. And his riding is completely insane!
SHAJBA: Yeah, I´ve seen some footage of that guy. Big drops…I wanted to talk about you being a long time member of ROG scene…
PUNX: Alright. I´ve kind of been a part of the ROG scene since the beginning. I rode street in Ljubljana and our, now already gone, KOMA skatepark with the guys who discovered the place in ROG. At the beginning, I was working a full time job so I was not able to drive to Ljubljana on a daily basis, but I have always tried to help out in any way I could. Now I have more time, but people who had started building the skatepark eventually stopped riding or ride only once or twice a year. Nevertheless, it has already been 10 years since we started and I must say we get along very well with the current team (Crew of 4 people). It has also gotten a lot easier for us, since there are more people helping us out now.
SHAJBA: Not so long ago, ROG was on every TV station, in every news story and all over the internet. One of the most attention-grabbing stories was the night attack of a group of 30 Neo-Nazis. Watching it over the internet and media I must say it looked pretty surreal. Were you there when that happened?
PUNX: Yeah, I was there when they attacked us. It was exactly like in the news. Pure WTF situation. Zoki (Zoran Jankovic, Mayor of Ljubljana) called the next day and said: “Nisam bio ja!”* (laugh). The attack probably happened due to some report on national television about the refugees and the Social Center of ROG.
*(“It wasn´t me!” in Serbian)
SHAJBA: Have you noticed any changes after all that media attention?
PUNX: Amm, maybe there are more people now helping out in the Social Center and others who are in a “standby” position, in case something similar ever happens again.
SHAJBA: Right. The ROG skatepark is probably the biggest indoor skatepark in the Balkan area. Every BMXer/Skater/Inliner knows the place and is following its current situation. To sum it up; Zoki had declared war on ROG, then the local authorities (MOL) tried to demolish some parts of its premises and have experienced a strong resistance by the ROG supporters when doing so. The ROG case has now become a subject of civil proceedings. How are you guys handling the situation on a daily basis? What are your plans and expectations?
PUNX: Our park has gained and developed a special flair during all those years, which is of course essential for such a place. I think Zoki and his fellow colleagues don´t realize how much they would take away from us and the scene, if they actually pulled it through and knocked our place down. They have no idea what Ljubljana´s younger generation wants and needs.
SHAJBA: I´ve read something about MOL wanting to preserve some buildings, is skatepark one of them?
PUNX: We´ve been negotiating with them regarding a new location for a while now, but these things take a lot of time. Nobody actually knows which parts of the premises should be preserved and which not, but until we´ve received something legal in a written form, we will keep fighting.
SHAJBA: I hope ROG stays at its current location. I believe ROG has gained, as you mentioned earlier, certain added value, which MOL needs to recognize and get behind it. I see definitely a lot of possibilities for MOL to make ROG profitable for the city, if they decided to support and invest in it.
PUNX: I agree.
SHAJBA: Let´s go to another topic. One of the things that comes to my mind when I think of you is that you work for a day or two, earn 100 EUR and travel, for example, to Barcelona for at least a month. You live there off of those 100 EUR, you ride your bike, you film and meet different people etc. Firstly, how do you survive on such a small budget? Secondly, how do you travel to your destinations?
PUNX: (Laugh) Well, it usually starts like that: “Uu, I got 150 EUR! I´m going to Barca!” (laugh). That is all I need; That traveling hype and the rest takes care of itself. I am not thinking about it too much, to be honest.
SHAJBA: OK and then? You go to the highway or some other hitchhiking spot? Don´t you ever worry about where you are going to sleep there or what would happened if somebody decided to rob you while you´re asleep.
PUNX: Well, I try not to take too much stuff with me. All I take is my backpack and my bike. I don´t worry about that at all. I´ve already traveled a lot and I noticed very quickly that I don´t need to be afraid of such events.
SHAJBA: So what is a typical person who offers you a ride?
PUNX: Normally, I get picked up by more “free spirit” type of people, or by those who think that I´m better off with them than on the road alone. They get scared for me and my kidneys (laughs).
SHAJBA: (Laughs) Alright, so you eventually arrive in Barcelona. Then what? You go to some famous spot and try to meet a fellow BMX soul to ask if you could crash their couch?
PUNX: I go there to see all the numerous spots I´ve seen in different videos, that is enough for me. I don´t care where I sleep for the first couple of days. Barca is basically heaven for BMX, so naturally you meet at least 10 different BMXers per day. They take you to various spots and there is always someone who offers you a place to sleep or at least a shower.
SHAJBA: Let´s say I´m doing your style of traveling from now on. Where should I sleep on my first day? Or shouldn´t (laugh)?
PUNX: Don´t sleep near water, lake or river.
SHAJBA: Why not?
PUNX: Because your nipples will suffer the whole night! (Laugh)
SHAJBA: (Laugh) Anything else? Any special spots like gas stations, special shapes of benches or something?
PUNX: No, it doesn´t matter where…It depends what you prefer. I don´t have any bad experiences, but if you want that other people will leave you alone at night in the city, looking like a bum helps a lot (laugh).
SHAJBA: You´ve also been to Belgium, Netherlands etc. You even had some clips in the official Street Series video. What are your experiences with other foreign BMXers? Have you always felt accepted and welcome by them?
PUNX: Yeah, I have always felt accepted. BMX circles are very well connected everywhere I went to and as a new guy you usually draw attention, especially if you´re a bit different (laughs). Or maybe they didn´t expect much from a random dude from Slovenia with a broom handle as a seatpost (laugh). I didn´t like the Street Series jam that much, to be honest, but there were a lot of cool riders there. There are shitload of unknown riders who ride 100 times better than pros.
SHAJBA: Wait, that with a broom handle as a seatpost was a joke, right?
PUNX: No, it´s true (laugh).
SHAJBA: (Laugh) Awesome. My standard question: What are your thoughts about the scene in Slovenia? Would you like to see more or less of something, would you change anything etc.?
PUNX: I think everyone should film and hang out more. I also don´t like the fact that everyone is a pussy nowadays, nobody has balls anymore (laughs).
SHAJBA: You mean riding-wise?
PUNX: Yeah, I really hate that our scene has gotten somewhat of a fashion thing. I liked the days when it wasn´t important how you made a trick or even if you landed it. All it mattered was that you fucking went for it, you know? Nowadays, half of the things people do, doesn´t even “count”.
SHAJBA: The other day I was talking to Miki and we discussed that it seems that younger riders don´t give a shit about after parties anymore. I remember when you and Pesa had come to our jam 2 days before it actually took place. You came there just to ride, hang out, without any other bigger plans. For me personally, the after parties in Nova Gorica, Murska Sobota and Koper were the best things ever. Now, there are usually 5 guys who stay for the after party.
PUNX: Yeah, it used to be way different. I always went to Urban Projekt or to OBC´s jams one or two days earlier to get hammered. This made the jam even better (laughs). But you gotta realize that our roll models were FBM Albert Street and Criminal Mischief guys, today it´s Adam 22.
SHAJBA: (Laugh) If we are already discussing this topic; A while ago you stopped drinking alcohol and smoking weed. How long have you been on this straight edge diet and how come you decided to go down this path?
PUNX: The last time I smoked weed was 4 years ago and I haven´t touched booze in 2 years.
SHAJBA: “Hu, jebote” (Damn)
PUNX: (Laugh) Well, you know…I have been partying everyday for 10 years…One day I just decided I´ve had enough. Being hammered all the time is not a good idea. The thing about me is, though, that I don´t know when to stop. Therefore, I had to cut it off completely.
SHAJBA: That´s some heroic shit, respect for that. And now? You feel any different? Have you found any alternatives; coffee, chips, tee?
PUNX: No, not really. Maybe I eat a bit more (laugh).
PUNX: Njam, njam (laugh).
SHAJBA: Where are Gagi, Krebl and Jugi? You used to go on road trips together.
PUNX: Yeah, those were the days…
SHAJBA: Do you guys stay in touch?
PUNX: Yeah, I rode with Gagi the other day. Krebl was also here in ROG a few months ago. They all have jobs so they don´t have that much time to hang out as they used to. Gagi actually took over their family farm.
SHAJBA: Adult life…So with whom do you ride the most? Do you still live that self-filming life?
PUNX: I have always kind of ridden alone. From the beginning. With time it has also gotten to the point where I prefer to ride by myself. Sometimes it´s nice to have a company and other times it feels better to ride alone. That´s BMX. You do it your own way. To tell you the truth, I´ve been nagging people to film or edit my videos a lot, but it never worked out. That´s why my videos are typically filmed by some random people (laugh). It sucks though, because if you want something to look somewhat decent you need someone who has patience and knows what he´s doing. At least a bit (laugh). I am lucky enough to have had my own camera since the day one, that way I was able to film a clip or two here and there, if the line/trick was not too brutal.
SHAJBA: Yeah, it seems that a lot of riders have the same problem with their video production, even though good quality cameras are more accessible now than ever before. What about skaters? You spend a lot of your time at ROG and I imagine you hang out with some of them. How is their scene in comparison with ours?
PUNX: I´ve always had a feeling that their community is more tight and connected than ours. That´s why they produce so many videos every year. I think their attitude towards skateboarding is more relaxed and they´re not worrying so much about other stupid things. They come and hang out, make a flip or two, fart in the camera and make a video out of it. In BMX everybody wants to be “the main man”. Somehow it seems our scene is stuck and we´re not getting anywhere.
SHAJBA: You think organizing more events and jams would make a difference for the better? I guess it´s not only us who´s facing these problems; For example, worldwide BMX completes sales have reached historic low not so long ago.
PUNX: I think that won´t make a big difference to tell you the truth. The problem is that the riders come to jams just to show off and compete who can do a better trick. After that, they run home to update their Facebook page. There is no random socializing and everything is just so serious. Kids watch way too many web edits and don´t enjoy the actual riding. Too much of training and not enough of riding for fun!
SHAJBA: What about Croatian scene? You think the scene there is progressing faster?
PUNX: Well, the scene there is definitely evolving. Kids there are getting insanely good at riding and are also hanging out together. That´s one of the reasons why their scene is evolving so fast. But I really don´t know “ko je jači«* (laugh). *(Who´s better; in Croatian)
SHAJBA: You come from Logatec, which is very close to Postojna. Is the Pumpa skatepark attracting younger generations or only wild “grandpas”?
PUNX: I´ve passed their skatepark many times over the last 5 years. I´ve never seen any younger skateboarders. But I don´t ride their anymore, because they´ve kicked me out some time ago. I hope this will change now, since we (ROG crew) helped them raise some money for their vert ramp.
SHAJBA: Kicked out? Why? Because of your pegs or bike in general?
PUNX: Because of my bike.
SHAJBA: That´s whack. I thought I heard it´s OK to ride their, as long as you take your pegs off…
PUNX: Maybe now, my experience is from some time ago.
SHAJBA: According to a lot of skateboarders, BMXers fuck up all their shit.
PUNX: I think a lot of times concrete copings get destroyed faster by skaters rather than BMX bikes. Unless if Mario Markotic is riding…That guy is capable of destroying a whole ledge with one grind (laugh).
SHAJBA: (Laugh) Fucking Marc, man. Fear of every skater…(Laugh). OK, let´s move to another subject. What are your plans for 2017?
PUNX: I hope I will be able to travel as far as I can. Other than that, I still have some unfinished business in some European countries… I will definitely try to visit Nijmegen, street spots there are the best.
SHAJBA: Nijmegen? Is that in Netherlands?
SHAJBA: What about U.S.? Not tempted?
PUNX: No, not at all. I´d like to visit Mexico, Columbia or Brazil. Places with big booties (laugh).
SHAJBA: (Laugh) Have you ever played in a band or on the street while traveling?
PUNX: I was a singer in a band once, but only for a short period of time. While I was traveling in France I went to a bar with some kind of “open mic” thing. There was a stage full of various instruments and one could go and play a song or two. At that time I had just learned how to play a guitar so I went up and sang a song from Pankrti. I got way better now though, so it wouldn´t be much of a hassle for me to perform on the street if I wanted to.
SHAJBA: Eh?! I would love to hear you play one day…Any other interesting hobbies besides BMX and music?
PUNX: Yeah, tile installation. That´s my job and my hobby. Oh, and clay modelling.
SHAJBA: Any back issues due to tile installations?
PUNX: Yeah man, of course! My knees are fucked too. And my ankles. And shitload of other things.
SHAJBA: Shit, I thought I had problems with my body.
PUNX: I just try not to think about it too much, it makes everything worse.
SHAJBA: OK dude, thank you very much for your time. Would you like to add anything?
PUNX: Thank you for doing this. I hope someone will find this helpful or at least interesting. It´s been an insightful experience for me as well (laugh).