The Robbie Maddison Story
An in depth interview with the modern day Evel Knievel
Article by Max Hind (aka Toofast Max) - Toofast Media Group
The name’s Maddison, Robbie Maddison. The Australian daredevil has achieved a lot in his storied career. He’s smashed distance jump records, he’s launched higher and dropped further than anyone before or since, he’s back flipped infamous landmarks and surfed dirt bikes. He has consistently disobeyed the laws of physics and continuously defied death. He even played the role of 007 in the most successful Bond film of all time. There really isn’t a lot that the FMX legend hasn’t done or achieved on board a dirt bike.
In the summer of 2015 DC shoes and Robbie Maddison released Pipe Dream, a fruition of a vision that Maddo had been sitting on for years. In the one click of a YouTube upload button the game was changed and our ideas of what are possible on a dirt bike irreversibly altered. And in the process Maddo transitioned from moto superstar to straight up superstar. The attention and coverage Pipe Dream received in the wider media was unlike anything we’ve ever really seen in the moto world, that’s just a testament to the visionary imagination, belief, and massive set of gonads that Robbie Maddison boasts.
Truly, Maddo is the most exciting and intriguing figure in our space. You just never know what he is going to do or come up with next. He is a man that innovates, a man that thinks outside of the box, a man that pushes the boundaries of what we think is possible. And for that we salute you Maddo. Stay rad.
We sat down with the man himself in his luxurious Californian home on the eve of production for Pipe Dream 2 to talk about life, bikes and what the future holds for this generations Evel Knievel…
Bleeding Petrol: Tell us your moto story. How did this all begin for you?
RM: I started riding dirt bikes when I was a little kid. I was heavily influenced by my dad, he had a dirt bike when I was very young and he used to ride it to work every day. When I was a little fella he was working two jobs so he wasn’t at home too much but he was my hero. When he left for work every day he popped wheelies up the road on his dirt bike. It was awesome. He would call when he was on his way home so we knew what time he would be coming back up the hill, I would be there waiting and he’d pop another wheelie. It was so cool and I can remember that being a big influence on me. I would sit on the tank of his bike and we would go for rides around the neighbourhood and down to the beach, we would ride the railway line out through the coal mine until we reached the ocean. I just loved motorcycles from the start, I loved the freedom of them.
Around that same time there was a school fair and they had a motorcycle. My sister was in kindergarten and I was just a young guy but somehow I managed to convince them to let me have a go on the bike. I rode it around the paddock by myself and shouted to my dad ‘look! I can ride a motorcycle!’ So that year I begged Santa for one. I ended up getting my first motorcycle when I was five years old and it just became a love affair.
My dad always tried to do the right thing and instil good morals in us, so he’d stop me from riding around on the streets and we’d go down to the track together. We’d go pretty much every weekend, he’d work all week and then when he got the weekends off we’d go straight to the track.
My childhood consisted of just riding dirt bikes, it’s all I wanted to do. Inevitably that led into the competitiveness, into trying to one up yourself and into comparing yourself to other guys your age and trying to compete with them. I got into the junior motocross ranks and that turned into a very competitive junior racing circuit. I was racing guys like Chad Reed, the Marmont brothers, Metcalfe, Troy Carroll, Dan Reardon, they were all guys from my era.
Dirt bikes really captivated me as a young kid and then as I got older we really focused on the racing side of it. Eventually freestyle motocross came about around the same time that I stopped racing, it really caught my eye and became something that I fell head over heels in love with.
BP: Were you naturally gifted when it came to freestyle? Or did you have to work at it?
RM: Fortunately, I was pretty naturally gifted at it. Growing up I had always been that young kid on the track doing the biggest jumps, I was usually the first kid in the 80 class to do the triple at a supercross or if it wasn’t me it would be Chad Reed and I’d be the next one over. I was always jumping the biggest jumps on the track, it was kind of my speciality, it was the one thing I had going for me- I wasn’t afraid to jump, I actually loved it. Freestyle motocross was just kind of the next progression of that, it worked well with me. Jumps were something that I always looked forward to, I wasn’t frightened of them, I was excited about it. As a young kid I figured out how to control the bike in the air with the back brake and using the throttle to adjust your flight. So when FMX came around it was something that I fell into quite easily. The 10 years of racing behind me was a really good foundation to go from, within 12 months once I had decided to really focus on freestyle I was able to figure it out and get a whole bunch of tricks behind me. I’m not going to say that it was the easiest thing for me because I did struggle at first to wrap my head around a lot of things and I wouldn’t say that I have the most air awareness and I don’t think that I’m the best gymnast when I’m upside down but I’ve worked on that stuff as hard as I can. The body varial was something that I worked on hard and was able to bring to competition and I’m super proud of that. But where the kids are taking it these days is crazy, obviously I saw that progression coming but I think the warning signs are up for me that I’m getting too old to keep doing that stuff. I wouldn’t say I am too old just yet but I’ve lost a bit of motivation and my body is screaming at me to slow down. But yes the whole jumping thing was something that always clicked with me and you know I eventually went on to break world records and jump further than anyone had gone at the time. I think that was just an extension of how comfortable I was on a bike. I enjoy going fast and I love flying through the air, it’s something that I feel I was born to do.
BP: What was the reason you stopped racing? And what was the one thing that made you fall in love with FMX?
RM: I stopped racing when I was at the age of moving into the senior ranks. I was a really small kid, at the time when I stopped racing Chad Reed was probably a foot taller than me. He was like a man and I was like a little school kid even though he is six months younger than me. I was just a late developer. At the time when I was supposed to be moving into the seniors to race 125’s I was the perfect size to be an 80cc rider. I was just a small kid, a late bloomer and because of that I just didn’t have the strength to be a motocross rider and to be competitive on the world stage or even the national stage to be a professional in Australia. I went from dominating in the 80cc class to struggling to be in the top five in the 125 class. I was the smallest guy at the front of the pack but I just wasn’t physically strong enough the deal with the men I was racing against. My dad sat me down and said ‘look, you’re just not physically able to compete with these guys. Why don’t you walk away from racing, go get yourself an electrical apprenticeship and get yourself a trade so that you have something to fall back on if all of this doesn’t pan out the way you want it to.’ So I listened to my dad. I walked away from racing and hung up the boots so to speak at the age of 16 and I went to do an electrical apprenticeship for four years. I finished the apprenticeship and became an electrician and I worked as an electrical tradesman for another two years. After six years in that industry I realised that maybe it wasn’t what I was meant to do. I saw Crusty Demons and I saw the freestyle movement really starting to take off. I was buying all the Crusty DVD’s and I went to see the Crusty Demons live show in Sydney. When I saw Twitch come out and do the huge turn down whips I knew that I wanted to do that and that I could do that. I just wanted to be out there with them. It was a slap in the face. I realised that I needed to be out there with them doing that stuff. I realised that the life I was living was wrong for me and that I needed to go and live that lifestyle. I left the stadium that night totally inspired and I pretty much changed my lifestyle to focus on riding dirt bikes.
The one thing I had up my sleeve was that I didn’t really need to turn to anyone for help or support. I bought a house when I was 16 and in that time the house went way up in value by about 100,000 dollars. So I borrowed $75,000, put it in my bank account and quit work the next Monday. I told my boss that I was retired and he assured me that I’ll be back. I told him I wouldn’t, I said I was going on tour, I’m going to ride my dirt bike. He was certain I’d be back…so far I haven’t been back and I don’t plan on it either.
Because I was able to fund myself I was able to ride full time. However I did always have a back-up plan if it didn’t work out. I could sell the house, pay back my debts, go back to square one, not owe anyone a cent and just go back to being an electrician. I just wanted to try and see whether I was worthy of being a professional rider. I think it’s better to at least try something rather than living the rest of your life wondering ‘what if?’ you know. One of the main things that motivated me to take the plunge was the fact that I got very ill during my apprenticeship. I worked myself until I was physically ill, I got an infection through dirty water and I got meningitis. I nearly died. I spent a month in hospital and had three months off work. When I returned to work I was on light duties but I still had stroke symptoms, I was still very weak and the left side of my body had lost all of its motor control, the left eye had turned in, I was really sick you know. It took maybe three years for me to overcome that and start feeling somewhat normal again. I think that was a wake-up call for me, I realised that I needed to chase what I wanted to do. Nearly dying when I was sick made me realise that I needed to give these thoughts I was having the chance to come to life and see if they would work or not. So I gave it a shot and luckily due to my racing background, the dedication I had and the work I put in it paid off.
I was able to win my first FMX competition. In my second competition I entered the pro class and I won that as well. I brought the backflip to competition in Australia and I did the first backflip combo in a run in an Australian FMX competition. That really opened the doorway for me. That one competition took me from being an amateur to being a Freestyle motocross entity I guess. Right after that event, literally the next week, my phone rang and it was these guys in Europe that wanted me to come over and do some shows in Germany. I jumped on the plane as a kid that had never left the country with nothing but my bag and a dream…
BP: Obviously you knew you wanted to make FMX your career. But was that call to go to Germany the first time you realised that this was going to work?
RM: For sure. Right after that event in Australia I realised that I was a professional rider. I made money! I think I made like 11 grand and I was like ‘hell yeah this is awesome!’ I did a week’s work and walked away with 11 G’s.
For the most part going to Europe was just a huge eye opener for me, up until that point I had never left the country and none of my family had ever been out of the country. I hadn’t travelled at all so it was all so new and different for me and it really rocked me for who I am and what I’m about. I felt very insecure once I left home but at the same time I was following my dreams. It’s been a wild ride since then.
BP: As you say, since you were a kid jumps were always your thing. After starting in the FMX game when did you start thinking about distance jumping? When did you start looking at football fields and thinking ‘yeah I can jump over that’? It’s arguable that this is what really put your name out there on global scale…
RM: Honestly it just happened naturally. I was at a show in Australia and this guy came up to me and said that he’d just bought a property right near my house. He described to me where it was and I said to him that I knew that property. My friend used to live there, all through school all we did was ask my friends mum whether we could build jumps on the property and she always said no. So I met this guy at the show and we went up to the property and I asked him what I could do and he said that I could do whatever I wanted there. I was pumped, I had been at that property my entire life picturing what it could look like. I knew exactly what I was going to do, I was going to build a jump from down here that goes all the way over that hill. We had the dozers and we pushed up this big mound of dirt, it pretty much a huge double – probably around 160ft- and the downside was this hill and you could pretty much jump as far as you could down that hill so long as you made the initial 160ft gap. It was pretty ballsy but I set up and went for it and probably jumped 170ft into it on the first go and landed like butter. After that I started doing nac nac’s and superman seat grabs and heel clickers. I was jumping upwards of 200ft whilst doing tricks. Around that same time Seth Enslow got injured whilst Crusty Demons were planning this night of world records event. I definitely wasn’t involved with it but for sure I knew all about it. When Seth got injured the low down on the street was that they were looking for a replacement to do his jumps and do the world records. Without a hesitation I called them right away and said I’d do the world record for them. They were nervous, they didn’t know whether I could do it, I assured them that I could but they had to take my word for it, we didn’t have any footage or even any photos of me doing that type of stuff. All they had was my word. At times I think I can come across as a bit crazy and I definitely think that when I went up and had talks with them I came across a little crazy. I think they wanted to give me an opportunity, I think they could see something in this energetic, overwhelming personality that was coming at them you know. I was so passionate, I really wanted that opportunity and I think they could see that I had confidence. I was living and breathing this stuff, I was so passionate about it that I was reduced to tears just talking about it. So they gave me the start, it wasn’t quite the terms that I was looking for but it was a foot in the door. I said to myself that I would just use the opportunity to prove that I could do it and to put my name on the map. I took the chance with two hands and set two worlds records that night; the longest jump on a 125 and the longest jump with a trick. I kind of had to stand in my place, they said this is your lane you stick in it. My job was to do the longest jump on a 125 and the longest jump with a trick, but I wanted to go for the longest jump overall, I wanted do all of them you know but they said there was no way because there were other people that were a part of it. So I just happily jumped in the que and went in the wake of Trigger Gum and Larry Linkogle. Those guys were heroes to me so I was in good company. It was so cool for me to be out there with those guys and to mingle with them and have them accept me. At the start of that jump and the process of getting involved there was a lot of tension. They didn’t really want to open the door to an outsider. I totally understand it now, they built this jump and they had figured out the angles and stuff, it was their jump, their gig and they didn’t want just anyone coming in you know. I understand it now because I’ve had that shit happen to me. I took it from what they were doing and moved it to a whole new length. I figured out all the lengths and dimensions and how to build those ramps and then I had people steal it off me. So I get it, I understand now why they were being so protective.
But once I was accepted it was awesome to come in under Trigger Gum, Larry Linkogle and Seth Enslow. And as you say that stuff really did put my name on the map and put me aside from the rest of the freestyle community. I have all the respect in the world for the rest of the freestyle riders, I think that they are incredible, but me and who I am I think I’m just another animal. I’m not saying that I’m better than any of those guys I just have a different mind-set and a different head on my shoulders. For me the ultimate goal isn’t to do a triple backflip, it’s been to ride my motorcycle on the water and to catch waves on my dirt bike and to think of outside the box ideas. I like to think that is what is keeping me going right now, I think that’s what is fresh and new and exciting about me. It’s not that I’m going out of my way to come up with crazy stuff but it’s just what I like to do, I just love trying to figure out new ways to express myself on my dirt bike.
BP: It’s fair to say that you’ve done some crazy things in your time. In your mind what is the wildest thing that you’ve done?
RM: It seems like the next thing always trumps the last and steps it up you know. But I have to say that one of the gnarliest things I’ve done is jumping the Corinth Canal. It didn’t get the reach or the popularity, or really hit home as hard as the Arc De Triomphe jump at the Paris hotel – not to take anything away from that jump because that was next level for sure- but I think Corinth was gnarlier. The Arc De Triomphe is without doubt my most successful jump in terms viewership and how far it reached. If I hadn’t had been through the mental torture to finally believe in myself and understand what’s involved and what it takes to do something like that and if I hadn’t had been through the mental side of overcoming that fear in Vegas then I wouldn’t have been able to do the canal jump. The canal jump brought fear and then some. It brought a whole other level of stress and anxiety and fear that the Arc De Triomphe didn’t really have- not to say that it wasn’t scary because it was as scary as shit and it was really overwhelming and it made me push myself to another level and a realm that I hadn’t been to before. I had to take what I did in Vegas and go to yet to another level and another realm. There were just some bad vibes at that place. People had killed themselves there, it was a destination for people that wanted to commit suicide and it’s just got that eerie feeling to it. The local people told me that it was a cursed place and that if I did the jump successfully it was going to change the energy of the place. I’m a little bit about the energy and the feel of places and I could definitely feel the tension and what they were talking about. I could feel the eeriness. The day I was meant to do the jump there was something off in the energy of the day. There was something telling me not to jump, the wind was in my face, and I just felt that there was some writing on the wall that said today isn’t the day. I was getting booed by all of these people that had come out to watch the jump, but I called it off and didn’t do the jump that day. What’s one day when your life is on the line you know. I woke up the next day and there was just something telling me yes you are doing it. The energy had changed, the wind was gone, the water was still, the birds were chirping, there was just a good energy about. Even to do this day I feel that everything needs to be right if you’re going to do something like that, the stars have to be aligned. On that second day the stars did align and I was able to do it and overcome my biggest fear and ride at a level that I hadn’t been to before. I mean I had to nail that run in perfectly in order to jump that jump. The movie doesn’t really do it justice but you see that I scrub over a fence, that fence was actually half way through the run in- the film doesn’t actually show the whole run in, I had to start way back and come through this hotel and go past peoples doors, and through this garden bed and step down off this road and through a park before I even scrubbed the fence. I needed to be hitting 98 Kph by that point if I was going to hit the speed I needed (116 Kph) at the ramp. I was struggling to do that and reach those speeds. It took an impeccable start- like a full on race start – and a perfect scrub to get the drive I needed. A few Kph slower off that ramp could have ultimately meant my death. If you’ve ever been there and looked down that hole you’ll know what I’m talking about. Its 300 feet down and 300 feet across, and it’s scary as hell.
BP: A lot of people would say that Robbie Maddison has no fear. Would you agree?
RM: No, not at all. I have fear just like anyone else and I’ve been scared of all sorts of different things throughout my life. The difference is that I’ve just worked with my fear so much. It’s like anything else, let’s compare it to doing weights in the gym. If you train every day you are going to get fitter and stronger and get to a higher level in comparison to someone that doesn’t. Someone that runs every day can physically run further and perform better than someone that doesn’t. It’s the same for me. Someone that exercises and deals with their fear everyday can withstand scarier situations. I’ve constantly worked with my fear you know and that’s enabled me to break that threshold and do things that would scare most people. Still to this day I have to be mindful of my fears and use certain techniques to overcome them. It’s certainly not the case that I’m fearless. Everything I’ve done has scared me in some fashion but it’s my job to work through it. I’m pretty dedicated and if I say I’m going to do something then 99% of the time I’m going to make sure it happens and I will do it. I’m always open to step away from something if it just doesn’t make sense to do it but at the same time I like to be a man of my word. So if I say I’m going to jump onto a ten story building, you better believe it.
BP: What is your outlook on life? Obviously, you have a wife and kids and they must get nervous every time you do something crazy. What’s your motto? And how do you strive to live your life?
RM: My motto for a long time has been ‘Face your fears. Live your dreams.’ That’s what I have signed on so many posters for kids all across the world. That has always been my motto, but now that I have faced my fears and I have lived my dreams I’m just trying to find a nice balance. Obviously I can’t keep on down this road forever. For right now my motto and my goal is to just be the best dad I can be. I think happiness is healthiness you know and I really think I have room to grow in terms of my lifestyle and how I live and what I put in my body. I just want to be a good role model for my kids, I think I’ve learnt all the lessons I need to learn and now it’s just a matter of putting that into play. I’m just trying to find balance in my life, I really just want to be a happy old man with no stress you know. I’ve stressed and stressed and stressed my whole life and pushed myself so hard that I just want to find peace. I have a beautiful wife and amazing kids and I just want to be able to slow down and appreciate that rather than feeling that I have to keep running in this crazy fast lane that I’m in. It is hard to get out of that fast lane once you are in it, and I think part of me actually craves it. Like if I don’t ride my bike and do crazy stuff for a while I start getting anxious and I start doing stupid stuff and making stupid decisions. Then I go and ride my dirt bike and huck a few big jumps and I realise how much I love it, then I realise that my body isn’t fit enough so I get back in the gym and start working on that. It’s a big circle really. I just really want to be healthy when I’m older, and I am getting older. I’d like to say that my motto from here on out is to just be happy, healthy and to be the best dad that I can be.
BP: Your Wikipedia page reads as a list of crazy stunts and world firsts. It must be a great feeling to be the first man to do something or to set a world record. Is that a big motivator for you? Does being the first or being an innovator really drive you?
RM: I wouldn’t really say that is affects me at all. I don’t really stop to think about that stuff too much. I do take it in my stride and I am proud of it but it’s not like I’m down the pub telling guys ‘oh I’m an innovator you know, I was the first guy to do this, I’m the first guy to do that.’ That’s just not my style. I don’t mind getting on the subject and talking about it because it’s what I do, but I’m not a big promoter of myself like that.
It’s definitely an awesome thing to have broken records and to have set records and it’s also very humbling to see people break them and take it to new lengths. It’s really cool to think that the limit is just there to be broken and to be pushed. There are probably kids being born today that are going to come along and make my stuff look amateur. But it’s cool to be a part of the history and it is something that I am very proud of. But that’s not the thing that makes me happy. As a young kid I thought it would have been, I thought all these records and benchmarks would be the best. The thought of jumping the furthest or being the first to do a new trick really drove me to try and innovate and try new things. I wanted to be the first guy to do something new and I really wanted to name a trick after myself. Over the years as I’ve been able to check all of those things off the list I’ve realised that I’m still the same person with the same crazy thoughts and I still have the same unnourished needs. The most comfortable I feel is when I stop looking out start looking in. I feel the most comfortable when I start working on myself rather than worrying about everything I should be doing or what other people are judging me on or what others think- I mean that kind of energy can be useful and has helped push me to do what I’ve done. But the stuff that I have done has made me realise that all the stuff I thought would be cool and gratifying isn’t actually nourishing at all. Taking a step back and having a breath of fresh air is probably the most awesome thing you can do, most of us do it every day but fail to realise just how good it is and how comforting it can be. I just say don’t take a breath of fresh air for a while and see how uncomfortable you get. Doing all of this crazy stuff and living life in such a large way has made me realise that the best and coolest things are the smaller ones.
Part of my deal for the future is just being able to walk around as an older man and be happy and healthy rather than to be stressing out and putting shitty food in my body and feeling like crap and wondering why. I don’t want to stress about what other people are doing or thinking or perceiving about me, that’s just a bunch of stuff that I can’t control. I mean I went to the gym today and I feel great. It’s crazy that I don’t keep it up all the time but I’m the same as everyone else, we all make mistakes every day, and probably my biggest mistake is that I work myself too hard. I always wake up feeling like there’s not enough time in the day to do everything that I need to do. However that work I put in and the stress I put on myself has got me to where I am today. So it is something I appreciate and I am thankful of but I’m also mindful of the functionality of the lifestyle I live and whether its sustainable. I’m always going for gold you know, there are people that just ride their dirt bikes for fun and enjoyment and they have a great time but for me if I’m not breaking records and doing next level stuff I feel like I’m not riding as I should be. Every time I get on my bike I want to be as extreme as I can be and I always want to be better than I was the day before but I think I just need to learn to take a step back and go to the track and ride to have fun. It’s all an evolution but I’m not quite there yet, I still let things get my attention and capture my imagination. After doing the last Pipe Dream I came away from that - after nearly dying - thinking that I definitely don’t want to do that again, and here we are now two years later in the hot seat ready to charge the biggest wave I can. On the flipside it’s a huge opportunity for me, it’s how I make my money, it’s how I express my creativity, and I think I’m meant to do it.
BP: Obviously the first Pipe Dream was a sensation. It took over the world. I guess you knew that you had something cool under your belts, but did you ever think it would reach the heights it did? 24 million hits on YouTube now right?
RM: We got something like 550 million global impressions overall. We hit 24 million views on YouTube, 24 million views on Facebook, so collectively around 50 million views across social media. And then with all the other stuff, and how it pops back up on social media every now and then- it goes in waves, it goes away for a bit and then it comes back and people remember how cool it was- with all of that we estimate somewhere around 550 million impressions. Its cool to see people appreciate it and get stoked for it, it’s cool to see people embrace it and get inspired by it. But that does also have some bad sides as well. Probably the worst thing about it is that a young guy from Butte Montana named Blake Becker tried to imitate what we did and he passed away. Obviously, that absolutely sucks. We didn’t do this for other people to go out and try it themselves, but inevitably it’s going to inspire people and they are going to want to try it themselves, that’s just a side of it we can’t control. I mean I’ve been lucky man, I’ve been working on this for four years and it’s nearly killed me a couple of times. I’ve been super lucky and I’ve been blessed to walk away from it. Its just by chance that I’m still here to talk about it today, I’ve nearly drowned a few times. And unfortunately this has claimed someone’s life, that’s definitely the worst side of it.
However there is a good side to it. The amount of people it has inspired globally is insane. I saw these guys in Brazil the other week, they had this old bike and they put some shitty old ski’s on it and rode it across a pond. The success they had with it was awesome for them, they were screaming and cheering like their country had won the Olympics or something, it was insane. So that side of it is cool, it’s awesome to see people get inspired and to see them get enjoyment out of it.
I didn’t expect it to get as big as it did or reach as far as it did. I honestly feel blessed for what we were able to achieve. It was a great pay off for the level of uncertainty that we had going into it. There were a lot of people that were not feeling as positive as I was about the whole concept, and to see it do really well was gratifying for me and a reminder for me to stick to what I believe in and that you don’t always have to listen to what everyone else tells you. There were a lot of influential people in my corner telling me that it was a bad idea, that it was stupid, that it would be perceived wrong and this and that. Part of me wanted to listen to them but the other part of me really wanted to prove to myself that what I was thinking and imagining was possible. In my mind this was always the coolest thing ever. I can understand some people’s concerns about it but in my mind we are in a developing age, as new technology comes out and new things become available I really think that what we are doing here will become a new means of transportation. I think it’s going to start with the motorcycle but it’s going to evolve into something different and I honestly believe that in the next five to ten years we will have something that is a hybrid motorcycle cross jet ski that is amphibious, that can go on the water, that can go on the land, you can jump it, you can ride it, it floats, you can start it back up. I think once electric motors become deep seeded in society we will have an electric dirt bike that floats, that rides on the water and that rides on the land. Potentially our kids kids will be roosting these around on the lakes and on the motocross tracks. Who knows really, maybe I’m wrong but I’ve seen the evolution of the bike and what we have now is a long way from what we started with. The stuff the bike is capable of now is really mind blowing for me, and the fact that I can now do things that I imagined a long time ago and always thought wouldn’t be possible is just crazy. I’m going to be playing with this thing for the next ten years, for sure. I’m going to keep playing with it whenever I can afford simply because it’s exciting. I get to work with my best friends on this and we get to try and change the game, we do stuff that challenges us all, we are trying things that we simply just have to figure out ourselves, we have to use our brains and make it happen.
BP: Is this a concept that you’ve been thinking about for a long time? Or was it more of a case that you had a crazy dream one night and woke up saying you were going to surf your dirt bike?
RM: Honestly, I came up with the idea a long time ago. They used to ride across the water in the early Crusty Demon films, so I was originally inspired by that. Obviously, Kevin Windham also did a massive water crossing, he probably has the longest crossing without ski’s. Kevin was a phenomenal rider and one of my heroes. Those were the things that inspired me. For the longest time after seeing those things I just wanted to ride across the water. I tried it a couple of times and it was a lot harder than it looked, from there I just thought that if you had ski’s on it would be so much easier. The only reason it was so difficult was because there was nothing at the front to keep it up, so if it had ski’s mounted it’d be so much easier. So then how are you going to drive it? Well if you had a paddle tyre big enough you could probably drive it. So I had this idea that if you had two skis and a big paddle tyre you could probably ride on the water, and that just stayed with me for years. I had that original idea probably 13 years ago, so it has been with me for a while. It was only five years ago that I revisited the idea. I was so focused on FMX and competitions for so long I never really entertained the idea seriously. But now that I’ve got that monkey off my back and I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve in the freestyle world I want to now go back and revisit some of these ideas and inspirations I’ve had over the years. Obviously Pipe Dream and the water bike was one of those ideas, but I do have an even crazier concept that I’m trying to work on now but that’s much more expensive and a longer winded project. So there is another dream that is close to my heart that I’m trying to bring to life…
BP: What can you tell us about Pipe Dream 2?
RM: The first Pipe Dream was brought to you by DC shoes and just recently DC announced that they are not going to continue in motocross anymore. Which makes sense now because I’ve been wondering why they haven’t been jumping at the bit to do Pipe Dream 2. I thought the first one was such a huge success in terms of the returns on the investment and the cost to produce the piece. The overall global exposure in the media was massive, so the advertisement value in that was huge, I mean it paid back for itself ten-fold you know. So it was really strange that after the success of the first one that I just couldn’t sell it, it’s been two years of me talking about it to finally get the ball rolling. At the end of the day I wasn’t stressing about it too much because I think everything happens for a reason and I knew that there must’ve been a reason that it was taking some time to get going. But in the end it’s all worked out for the best, we’ve only just got the bike to the level that we need it to be to step up the game- I mean it’s not even quite ready yet, we are going out to test it tomorrow- and I’ve only just recently met the people that were able to help with the development and are going to help bring this to the next frontier. I’ve got my buddy Jamie here with me and John Duffy from applied racing has leant us his workshop to work in. Jamie is a really talented machinist and he can make anything out of metal. He looked at my original water bike and told me that it was built so shitty and that it could be done so much better. So thankfully he’s been able to free up some time to come over here with me and work on this project to take it to where we both know it can go.
As far as Pipe Dream 2 goes I can see this becoming a product much like Ken Block’s Gymkhana, that’s what I’m looking at here and that’s the type of thing I’m trying to achieve. I want to do a bunch of different videos with a bunch of different settings, I want to show people the evolution of this thing you know, as each video comes out it’s going to feature the water bike in its next phase, at it’s next level, it’s next abilities, the next possibilities. We are going to keep working behind the scenes tweaking on it and developing it. We will not make another movie until we can trump the one before. I’m excited to see where we can take this, I think by Pipe Dream five or six we should be launching world records out in the water, who knows maybe we’ll be jumping wave to wave or doing backflips and freestyle motocross in the ocean. That’s the level that I want to take this to, and I think that we are definitely in our right minds to think that stuff is possible. With the technology and the right resources it’s all possible, it’s just about how much you’re willing to sacrifice and work for it. Luckily I’ve got a good partner in Jamie, he works like a mad dog, he’s very talented and smart and we’ve got a good team that’s got our backs. I started this out as a wolf pack of one and now we’ve got a of few more members to the pack- I think that line has been used before!
Pipe Dream 2 is all about show casing the evolution of this idea, we plan to supersede what we’ve done before, the capabilities of the bike are far superior now and therefore the stunts in the film are going to be taken to new levels. I want to get closer to the waves, I want to get under the lip of the wave, I just want to take every scene from the first Pipe Dream and step up the game.
BP: Changing gears now, let’s talk about your Hollywood career. You were James Bond’s stunt double, that’s pretty cool, right? Can you talk about that experience, how it came about and the acclaim you received after wards…
RM: The step into Hollywood was always something that I had thought about. I had been projecting my thoughts towards it, and I don’t think anything comes your way until you open your mind to different situations and possibilities and believe that you’re worthy of it. Only when you do that will things start coming your way. Once you set your goals and put your mind and devotion towards something I think that’s the secret to success. If you don’t work towards your goals each day, if you’re not mindful of what you want to achieve and where you want to go you’re pretty much just doing burn outs in circles.
All of the things I’ve done in my life have been things that I’ve really wanted, thing’s that I’ve worked towards and aspired to. It’s not as if I’ve just stumbled across this stuff and it’s accidently happened. So with that in mind I always had this vision of working in Hollywood. I kind of put myself out there a bit, I did some commercials, I talked with some stuntmen and I let people know that I wanted to do this kind of stuff. But nothing really happened and I certainly wasn’t going to leave Freestyle Motocross to try and be a stunt guy, I would’ve just fallen into the pack and had to climb back up the ladder. So I decided to stay true to who I am, I went out and did the RedBull New Year No Limits jumps, I jumped a football field, I jumped to the roof of a ten story building, I jumped down from the Arc De Triomphe, I jumped the Tower Bridge - I backflipped that bitch! All of that stuff actually turns into a resume, a publicly displayed resume. When the job as Bond’s stunt double came up I actually wasn’t even being considered because I wasn’t a SAG (screen actors guild) guy, but one day my phone rang and it was the stunt coordinator. He had seen my stuff, he was Australian and he was a big guy in Hollywood, he had been the stunt coordinator for Batman and a few other big movies. He called RedBull for my contact details and they passed him onto me. He said he wanted me to be involved in the new Batman movie. So I signed on to do Batman but Warner Bros wouldn’t let me on their set because of my paper work. I’m a green card holder but because I’m not an American citizen they wouldn’t allow me to work on their set. So instead I did the next best thing and took out the stunt coordinators son and taught him how to ride a motorcycle. After that the stunt coordinator became a good friend of mine and my name was suddenly in the conversation when it came to stunt work. Bond was being filmed in Europe, so when that job came up I wouldn’t have had the problems with the paper work that I had in the US. So they called me up and told me about the gig with Bond, they said they had another guy on the film but his dimensions didn’t really match with Daniel Craig too well, so he wasn’t the best double. They asked if I could send through my dimensions, so I looked up how tall Bond was and I sent through the same height and the same build and ultimately got out there and did the job. In reality I’m only half and inch shorter than Daniel Craig and I’m probably not quite as built as him nor as stocky but it’s Hollywood right, it’s all smoke and mirrors. They were able to give me this head cap with his same hair line and it took about two hours in the make-up chair to make me look like him each day. But in the end I ended up being a good double for him and I managed to nail all of the stunts. I think they were a bit concerned about some of the stunts, like the jump through the window and the drop down into the grand bazaar. That was a testy jump and the thing that made it hard for me was the fact that I had just had back surgery, my doctor said that I could ride but he also said don’t do anything that’s going to compress your back…the first thing I did was jump down three stories to flat. But we managed to get it in one take and move on. It was just great to be on a film like that, I was on it for three months and I got to hang out and get the full Hollywood experience on a big slow moving film. It was just a lot of fun. At the end of it I did a lot of press work for the film and a lot of the Australian media and news sources covered it. It was awesome to work side by side with Daniel Craig, he was such a nice guy and he had lot of time for me and he sat down with us and had dinner and beers. He’s just a nice normal bloke, he didn’t want to be put on a pedestal or anything like that, he just wanted to be treated like everyone else, so we did. He was just another one of the boys. He’s a great guy and someone that I really look up to. Ultimately we won a SAG award for the work in the movie, so on my very first film I was able to get nominated and win a SAG award. That’s something not everyone gets to do, so it was just a great opportunity.
I think what gets me this type of work is just sticking to who I am and what I do. After Bond it wasn’t as if I got a plethora of calls to do a bunch of other film work. The film industry is really about who’s back you scratch, it’s a tight community and it’s hard to break in to it. Someone like me who doesn’t play roles and treats everyone equally no matter who you are probably offends some people in Hollywood. But I’m not trying to offend anyone, it’s just me being real. I don’t know if I upset anyone, I wasn’t trying to, but at the end of the day I’m not going to treat someone differently because there might be a benefit for me you know. I’m going to treat everyone as equals and if Hollywood doesn’t like that than I guess it’s just not meant for me. So after Bond I didn’t do any other films. Then I released Pipe Dream and put the water bike out there. The producers of XXX 3 (the return of Xander Cage) loved the video and the bike and got me involved in their movie. So I recently doubled for Vin Diesel in his latest film XXX 3. That one was a struggle man, it was a lot of work. I doubled for Vin and so did my buddy Luke McNeil and I also brought out another friend called Cody Mackie, we went out there and did the whole action sequence. It was lot of fun but I think it’s probably going to be a bit cheesy because they do a lot of 3D work and animations in those films but it was good work and it was fun. We got to go to the Dominican Republic and really get a feel for what you’ve got to call a third world country, that was just another crazy experience in itself. Overall it was a huge job for us to do and we definitely had the odds against us on that one, but it was really cool in the end to get the director and the producers and the stunt coordinators the shots that they wanted. Seeing those guys happy and smiling at the end of it was a big payoff for me.
New Media Master
BP: You’re very tapped into the age of new media and new marketing. You seem to be continuously churning out rad video content such as Aircraft or Drop In. How important do you feel that stuff is for you, your brand and the future in terms of what you want to do and achieve?
RM: It’s not so much just social media. Like I just did something with Vin Diesel in a Hollywood production. But I do just try to do things that stick to who I am as a person and what I’m about. That’s one of the biggest struggles I’ve had with some on my partners and sponsors and people who support me. They ask, ‘well what are you going to do next year?’ and I don’t really have an answer for them. It’s hard for me to lay it out and say I’m doing this, this and this you know. I’m not chasing a circuit or a competition series or anything like that. But I can tell them about all the crazy ideas I have and it just depends whether someone supports those ideas or not. So I can’t say that yes this idea is definitely happening or no it’s not happening. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to be working 14 hours a day every day in order to bring those ideas to life. That’s the guarantee you get with me, you know that Robbie Maddison is going to come on and work his butt off every day to do the best he can and ultimately produce awesome content.
You’ll probably notice on my social media that there isn’t a bunch of day to day activity- there is sometimes when I’m bored but it’s not awesome stuff. I’m not going to ride around and do a bunch of nose wheelies and stuff like that to try and overload and flood the market with too much content because I think that becomes annoying. So I just try to do stuff that is cool and savvy. I do want to get to a stage of routinely releasing content every year or every six months much like Ken Block does, but I just don’t have the means to do that right now. I’m sure we’ll figure it out in the future though. For me getting great content and in turn getting good exposure is the recipe for success. But it’s a hard game, you never know when something is going to be successful or not. You can shoot something really cool and it may not get any likes. You could shoot something that really isn’t that awesome and it’ll blow up. Honestly with Pipe Dream I was really sceptical about it and in turn really overwhelmed when we got the reaction we got. I think because I had been working on this thing for three years I had become desensitised to how cool it was and I forgot how cool it must look to someone that hadn’t seen it before. So when I first watched Pipe Dream I was unsure whether it had the stuff it needed to really hit home you know. I think I might be my biggest critic and I think that’s one thing that really drives me to search deep for the best and coolest things that are really going to hit home. There are lots of things we could do and try just to get ‘one’ out so to speak but I won’t go and do something just to put another film out to boost the metrics. I want to make everything I do unique and cool. That’s what I really pride myself on, I feel I’ve one upped myself each time. That’s why Pipe Dream and Aircraft and Drop In have happened because these are the visions that I have and we work hard to make them happen. Now we have Pipe Dream becoming a sort of franchise thing we want to do Pipe Dream 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and push the boundaries each time until we are ready to hang it up. But as well as that we are also working in the background here on something else that I am very passionate about.
BP: You were recently over in the UK racing at Weston Super Mare. Tell us about that experience and whether you’ll be back...
RM: The Weston Beach Race was amazing. I had the best time out there. I went there simply as an event ambassador and there was no pressure for me to ride. But I grew up racing motocross so there’s still a bit of a racer in me. I got there and I thought that I would be capable of doing the track but I didn’t think that I’d be able to do a three-hour race. I honestly thought there was no way I was physically able to do it. But somehow I managed it. It’s mind over matter I guess, my mental strength must be stronger than my physical strength and I was able to finish in the top 50. For me that was like winning A1, I was just so stoked. Jonny Walker was bummed that he got sixth and was over the moon that I got 48th! It was just an awesome overall experience and I’ll definitely be back. I’m planning to bring my water bike with me to do the first public display with that, which is really cool. So, the first live ride will be at the Weston Beach Race and that’s something I talked to the promoter about, I said I was going to hold off doing a live show until Weston. So I’m really excited about that and I’m excited about doing more beach races in the future. The beach races force me to be a bit fitter, with freestyle you’re only doing three minute runs so you don’t have to be super fit. So I really want to work on getting my fitness back to where it was when I was young. I used to be an endurance runner so I want to get back to that level of fitness. My knee has prevented me from that for so long but I had it fixed this year and I’ve been surprised on how well its been holding up. I’ve been able to do all the squats and exercises in the gym today which is great and I’m excited about what I’ll be able to do once my body is fully fit. The beach race was really the first thing I did after surgery so it was a good test. Next year I want to do Weston and I want to do the one in Holland.
BP: Obviously you’ve got Pipe Dream 2 in the works and you’ve got your other top secret project, but what else does the future hold for Maddo?
RM: After the Winter X Games in January I’m going to be taking a month off to just be with my family. I’ve been away for the last three months and I’ve really been missing my kids and my wife you know. So I’m going to go and get caught up with Dad and Wife time. So that’s just going to be a holiday from the media, I’m still going to work and train but mainly I’m just going to hang out with my kids. After that I’m just going to come back and get into it, do the beach race and follow up on everything. Hopefully Pipe Dream 2 will forge some new relationships that we can move forward with in the future. We have a good pace going on at the moment in terms of the development of the water bike and we have a plan in place on where we want to get it in the next 12 months. So I need to stay on top of day to day progression and the phone calls and the follow ups that are needed to make this thing happen. We have a big plan for it and I think Pipe Dream 2 will open up a whole new level of riding on the water. Beyond that though I think the next five years are going to be based around the other project. I’m pitching a five year plan with the goal of releasing the product at the end of it. As well as that I want to go back and revisit the world’s longest jump. I love riding at speed and I love jumping. It’s not that I want to kill myself on my dirt bike but I just want to take it to the limits that I think are possible. Where we are right now with it I think we are using the wrong tools for the job, so I want to make the right tool for the job and I want to fly further than anyone has gone before or even conceived is possible. The technology is here and available to us and it’s all possible, that’s something I’m excited about. I’m looking forward to breaking the world record, stretching it to new lengths and going as far as I can go.
BP: Is Maddo going to be a moto dad?
RM: I’d like to think not you know. My boys love to ride bikes and I think my youngest son Jagger has what it takes to be a gnarly rider. Whereas my eldest son Cruz, he’s a skilful rider, but he’s like his name you know. He’s just chill. I don’t see him wanting to be the first guy around the first corner, he’d probably check-up and let everyone past and just cruise around. He’d stop and help the guy that’s fallen over you know, he’s such a lovely kid. They love motorsports, I think that’s where we’ll end up. Cruz wants to be a buggy driver so I’m sure we’ll be at the go-kart track soon. I don’t think it’s up to me and what I want, they’ll do what they want do, but I’d like to put a golf club in their hands as soon as possible. But its whatever they want to do really. At the end of the day I just want to work myself into a position where I don’t have to be away for work like I am now and where I can spend more time with my kids. Its killing me at the moment. I mean even when Cruz was born I wasn’t there. For the first three months of his life I was away working on Bond. That was seriously tough. And here I am again, my little boy Jagger is learning to talk and Cruz phones me every day before school. I’m just missing so much. So really my main focus for the future is to be the best dad I can be, I want to take all the things that I have experienced traveling the world and mould two good men, and potentially a good daughter as well.
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