Photo: Katie Panzer
Tate Roskelley is a rare breed. You’re more likely to see him riding his bike backward down a stair-set or manualing a chain than you are to see him in a skate park. Despite all of his abnormalities, this Utah native has his feet firmly planted in the professional BMX industry with his own signature frame, the Volume Drifter, and mind-blowing full-length video parts and online-edits with companies like Volume and Demolition. To quote one pleased fan on one of Roskelley’s edits, “Tate’s riding makes me smile because nothing he does is actually possible.” When SLUG photographer Katie Panzer and I met up with Roskelley for a shoot and an interview, smiles were one thing that were not in short supply.
SLUG: How did you end up riding for Volume?
Tate Roskelley: Rob Wise, who was a big part of Volume at the time, asked me if I would be interested in riding for them. I was riding for Fit, who was arguably one of the most popular companies at the time, so the team was really stacked. I decided that it could be a really good opportunity to be a part of something a little different. Also, Jason Enns and Brian Castillo, two of street riding’s most progressive riders, have been with Volume since day one, so that also helped a little.
SLUG: You have this distinct riding style that sets you apart from other riders. Why don’t you just ride parks and handrails all day?
Roskelley: I never was gifted to do all the regular tricks. I grew up in Morgan, and there was nobody that rode up there at all, so I just rode by myself growing up, and I think that probably had a lot to do with it. The first dudes I saw ride street were Gonz and Ratboy, and that just opened my mind as to what riding could be, and ever since, I’ve been a street rider.
SLUG: What is your thought process when you approach a new spot?
Roskelley: I guess it really depends. Basically, my ideas come really fast, like right when I get to a spot, an idea will pop into my head, but maybe one out of 20 ideas actually work. Usually something you don’t see all the time appeals to me more, like weird architecture and stuff that you usually wouldn’t ride. The weirder the better, I guess you could say.
SLUG: How did you come up with the “superbike slide”?
Roskelley: I was playing around in a parking lot once, and I was trying to ride under some tape. I was just trying to carve lower and lower, and one of the times I kind of hit my pedal and it locked into a slide for like a split second, and ever since I’ve just been playing with it.
SLUG: You once rode your bike under a moving semi truck?
Roskelley: Yeah, it was actually for “That’s It,” my first video part. One of the tricks I’d wanted to do forever was ride under a moving semi ’cause I’d been riding under them in parking lots just kind of fucking around, and I finally got one of my friends to film it. It took forever, and nobody wanted to film it ’cause they thought I was going to get run over, and finally my friend Ben Williams filmed it. We went to 12th Street in Ogden at the Flying J, and we just were waiting for trucks to come by. I wanted to do it when they were coming around the corner and were speeding up to go down the road. Ben said to me, “Dude, don’t do it that way. I’m not going to film it if you do it that way. Do it as they’re coming up to the stop sign.” I finally agreed to it, and when I did it, I was actually under the semi for a lot longer than I had thought I was going to be, like the back tires caught up, and so if he didn’t make that call, I don’t know, I could’ve been run over by a semi. Yeah, definitely a good call on his part.
SLUG: Starting out, did you ever get any flak from people for riding outside the norm?
Roskelley: It seems like people were either into it or they hated it. It was kind of polarized, I guess. Now it just seems like there’s a few people that, every time I put something out, they want to talk shit on it because I’m not doing the kind of shit they’re trying to do to get sponsored. I’d rather do it my own way, I guess.
SLUG: Whom do you usually ride with these days?
Roskelley: Elf, Cameron Wood, Aitken, Dave Thompson, Richard Fox, Nick Flex, Rob Wise, Greg, Skyler, everyone at Capilli’s house, Ben Williams, Matt Beringer, Tucker and the list could keep going. That’s why I like it here.
SLUG: Does music get you stoked to ride? Is there a staple band or genre that you generally listen to?
Roskelley: Yeah, it plays a big role. It can really help with the visualizing aspect, which is very important in any sport. As for a staple genre, I would say no. Anything that is good can do
SLUG: Any words of wisdom for up-and-coming riders?
Roskelley: Probably just be you. I never thought I’d be where I am right now. I was always just having fun, and before you know it, if you’re just doing it for the right reasons, having fun, I think it will work out for anybody.