30 Years of Van Homan: Part 1

My friend Van turned 30 last month and I started thinking it would be a good time to do an interview with him. I had a bunch of photos saved from over the years and it seemed like it would be a good chance to sit down with him and talk about random stuff, so that’s exactly what we did. The “30 years of Van Homan” title might suggest something bigger, but how can we really sum up the legacy of Van Homan in one interview? Plus, this is in no way the end of the road for Van. Anyone who’s seen his recent “Stay Fit” part can attest to that. This is simply a chance to plant a mile marker and thank Van for being such a gnarly dude. BMX is so much radder because of you. Now let’s do this.
-Derek Adams

You’re thirty years old. How does it feel?

Actually it feels pretty good. I think a lot of people turn thirty and they start freaking out, maybe have a midlife crisis or whatever. I think if you’re happy with what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished then turning thirty is kind of a positive thing, a mile marker like “Wow I’ve made it, I’m thirty.” I’m still riding professionally and I’ve accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to accomplish in my life so it doesn’t feel like a death sentence. It feels like I did it, now what’s next?

When I was young there were no role models in bmx who had turned thirty ever, you know, twenty five seemed like the tip of the iceberg. It just seems like now you see Ron Wilkerson hitting 43 and airing ten feet out still and it’s kind of crazy. You think you see yourself going for a while?

I’m just going to keep riding. I don’t really feel much different. No plans to start slacking or whatever. I just feel more relaxed. I don’t really feel like I’m out to prove anything. I’m still motivated to ride hard and progress my riding, but I’m less worried about what other people are doing. I’m content just doing my thing.

Van in his backyard when he first started riding.

So what’s your thing these days, pretty much total street? Because it seems like you did make the transition from racer to dirt jumper to street rider, just like a progression.

Yeah I mean I’ve always kind of rode everything. When I was growing up all we had was dirt and street. We had shovels and woods so we would dig and we would ride whatever street we had available to us. Street’s kind of where I get inspired to progress and do new things. I love riding dirt, I love riding park but I don’t feel like I have as much to offer as far as something that I’m going to want to film and that people are going to want to watch. I feel like street is where I get excited like “Oh wow look at that setup” or “I wanna learn this trick”. Park and dirt I just wanna flow and go fast and air stuff.

You think video is what’s driving bmx into the future? Filming has become such of a big part of bmx now that it seems like what people want to see and what you might want to do for fun can end up being two different things. But that’s probably what separates being a professional and not being a professional?

Yeah, but I don’t look at it as what I do for fun and what I do to film. I have fun doing it all, it’s just a different type of motivation and a different type of excitement. Just flowing the trails and being smooth is a good feeling and its relaxing but then there’s a whole different kind of high and excitement from sweatin something and overcoming it and accomplishing it. There’s a lot of different types of thrills and motivations. I think different people ride different things well. So it’s like me, I’m probably not going to film that many clips on a dirt jump but Mike Aitken, you could watch 10 minutes of that guy riding dirt and its going to be entertaining, so it just depends on the rider.

I think speed in general is coming back…bikes have chains for a reason

Van winning a race dressed in civilian clothing just like Cru Jones.

So you’re a pro rider and now you have two shops it seems like you’re just expanding your involvement in bmx. Is there anything else you see yourself doing in the future besides that?

It’s hard to tell. To be honest, right now sometimes I feel like I’m spread a little thin. I don’t think I foresee any other big ventures as of now. I really just want to work hard on the projects I already have going so that they can meet full potential.

So it’s a lot of work?

Yeah, it is, a lot of work. It’s a lot of stress. I think it’s a balance, you have to work hard in anything that’s worth doing or worth having. It’s going to take some work and stress. You don’t become a good rider without stressing out or beating yourself up a little bit and the same with business. You’re not going to be successful at business if you don’t take some chances, work hard and get a couple grey hairs.

No hair club for men just yet?

No not yet. Hopefully that’s a ways off.

Rail manual pioneering in Philadelphia. Adam Wallacavage photo.

Okay, one of my other questions is about something you mentioned before, about how it seems like riding parks and trails doesn’t even seem like “the cool thing” to do anymore. Is that a lot to do with the video stuff? Because street’s more fun to watch?

I think that for a while you’re right, but I think that it’s changing. I definitely think it’s changing. I think that a lot of kids ride street because it’s accessible and it’s not as scary, at least not at the level that every kid can ride street. Every kid can just mess around on a curb or learn to 360 off a curb but learning a 360 over a set of double is like a whole other risk factor. Not to say one is better then the other. I think street’s just more accessible for everyone. I think all the other stuff is just getting more popular again, it all goes full circle.

So you think dirt’s coming back?

I just think speed in general is coming back, speed and airing. I think people are just sick of creeping around. I think people are just into seeing someone crank full speed. Bikes have chains for a reason.

This is the exact moment Van took jersey barrier airs to a new level. Vinnie Guedes photo.

Let me ask about the acoustic guitar, you just got an acoustic guitar. You used to be pretty heavy into rocking out to punk rock jams but you’ve been off it for a while. Are you thinking about getting back into it?

I was pretty psyched I got an acoustic guitar for Christmas. I definitely want to start playing it more. You know maybe figure out some stuff. Basically all I know is a few chords and I just make up stupid punk rock songs. I’ve always have fun with it but I’d maybe like to try to progress a little bit and be able to play a little bit more of a variety. You can kind of get away with just the power chords on the electric guitar but it gets boring on the acoustic. So i’ll try to broaden my horizons a little bit and hopefully learn a few things on that.

Think we’ll ever get to record “Chester House”? [one of Van’s original songs]

We should. We’ve got a few tunes we could record. I have a few that I’ve forgotten and I need to dig up a tape or something so I can recall them. I can’t remember a couple of the classic songs.

Should we get George D to play bass?

We might have to have a reunion and play your 40th birthday haha. The one and only show we played was your 30th birthday.

Van rocking with George D. and Derek, many moons ago.

Van’s 21st birthday in Australia.

So here’s another little known skill that I always tell people you have, that I think you’re really good at, is freestyle rapping. You think anyone will ever get to witness that talent?

(Laughs) I don’t know, I might have retired that one. I don’t know, I’ve had my moments but I’m not going to claim any great feats on that but I’ve definitely had my moments.

So you’re the unsung hero of freestyle rap?

I don’t know…I don’t want to talk about freestyle rap. [Editors note: I think Van got served by Catfish a couple of times, he may be traumatized.]

This is around the time we all realized that Van was on a whole other level. 1999, rail hop to icepick. Pics by Adam Wallacavage.

So what do you think of the “Van Homan Will Save Us” catch phrase? Do you think it’s funny?

I guess it’s funny, definitely, that video that it came from was hilarious. I thought it was funny that “Van Homan will save us” was just one line in the whole thing and for some reason it’s titled that. It was kind of funny how it caught on and that Fit printed up those cups at Interbike. Then after the big breakup the phrase seemed to have even more meaning and seemed that much more fitting, so it was kind of funny.

Do you want to talk about that at all? Do you want to talk about staying with Fit or anything like that?

Basically, I wish Robbie and those guys the best but I’m way happy staying with Fit. I believe in Chris Moeller, the first guy to ever do a bar spin on a dirt jump. He started S&M Bikes from nothing. He’s built an insane machine shop and I just feel like he’s done wonders for BMX as a whole. I think a lot of younger kids don’t really realize who he is and what he’s done. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of Fit and part of S&M and that building. I just couldn’t be happier where I am. Fit’s going to keep kicking ass. We are going to keep doing our thing and keep putting out good products and putting out good riding. We lost a couple good guys on the team which was a bummer but things change. Its just leaves room for some Am guys and some new blood to have new opportunities. If anyone’s thinking that Fit’s going away or that Chris Moeller’s whack or whatever, fuck off. (laughs)

Okay, cool. That pretty much sums that up.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of this interview coming later this week to The Least Most. Until then you can watch Van’s old Props bio uploaded courtesy of propsvisual.com.

Van Homan Props Interview from Least Most on Vimeo.

Continue to Part 2

Derek Adams

Orchid Footwear head hancho. Lover of beer, iphones and backflips.