Darryl Tocco dropped a sick new video three days ago--and then surprised everyone a few hours later by announcing he was stepping down as pro for his longtime sponsors Kink and Eclat. It was a decision that he made on his own accord, but if you know anything about Darryl, humility is a badge he wears well. With a decade as Kink pro and riding for Eclat since the brand's inception, in Darryl's own words he "wanted to be proud to make a formal departure." Darryl isn't quitting riding or anything drastic like that--he's simply shifting his effort for Kink 100% behind the camera as the brand's video content producer. Darryl is as solid as humans come and was always a great representation of what a BMX pro should be--humble, proactive, positive, and just helping grow BMX in a positive way. Safe to say he'll be handling business much the same way behind the lens for years to come. Hats off to you, my friend.
When did you decide you wanted to step down as a Pro? Was there a specific incident that made the thought pop into your head? And most importantly, why?
I knew this was coming for the past few years. It’s just kind of been in the back of my head. As I’ve evolved behind the camera, it became more and more important to me to focus more time on the lens while on trips, especially with Kink. The Kink HQ squad and I had a talk about a year ago about moving on to a more video focused role at the brand, and we came to the agreement that my time would be coming once I was able to put out another part I was stoked on.
How did your family, friends, teammates, TMs react when you told them?
I didn’t talk about it much to be honest. Even if I did mention that I was working on a “retirement part” I think most of my friends and teammates just kind of laughed it off. My family was supportive as always, they knew I was ready to shift focus a bit. This was kind of a personal thing for me, I didn’t want to hype it up too much or look for the attention.
Most riders who move on from being pro typically kind of fade out without any formal departure. What made you decide to make an official announcement?
I just didn’t want to go out like that. I think a lot of guys get in a position where they just wait for the free money to end, and the relationships that they may have had for years with people at brands go out in a blaze of anger and bullshit. BMX careers seem to end in bitterness and resentment when you just let yourself fade out of the industry. BMX is too important to me to be mad at it--I wanted to be proud to make a formal departure.
As far as your edit goes, why did you drop it alongside (yet separate) from the announcement?
Even when I was younger I knew I’d want to go out with a part. Filming parts is my BMX career. I think I’ve entered two pro contests in my life and got dead last both times probably [laughs]. The only reason I’m here is because of video parts. I just always thought it would be appropriate to go out with the very thing that got me here in the first place.
Do you want to talk a little about the days of filming for the Ride video Insight?
That shit was sick. Navaz hit me up shortly after I got on Kink and told me about the new job, and asked me if I would film a part. I was tripping. I grew up on the Ride videos. Those guys were superstars, I felt unequipped to be honest. I was just some dude, working at a restaurant. How am I gonna film for a video series that has featured guys like Josh Stricker and Corey Martinez? I was bugged out. But yeah, it was amazing. My first time in California--trips with Dak, Davey, Brennan. I was hanging out with Eddie Cleveland in California all of the sudden, ya know? I was bussing tables the Friday before! It was crazy. I felt like a peasant around those dudes, but such good energy on those trips. Davey would get us fucking hyped.
Was a time when you first realized that you could potentially be a pro rider?
I don’t think it ever really happened to be honest. The first Kink trip I ever went on I just thought “wow, I get free bikes now, this is sick, I’m on MegaTour.” Jay [Roe] said something mid way through the trip to all of us along the lines of, “You guys are the new Kink Pro Team” and I just laughed. I didn’t even really know what he meant. I certainly didn’t think it meant I would get paid or that it would last more than a year. Once I got some momentum and other brands were hitting me, it was like “Holy shit this is getting real.” It was a dream.
How old were you when you turned pro and what year was it?
I guess it was 2006, formally. I didn’t start getting paid until 2007 though. I was 23 and in college, and I despised it.
Where do you think you'd be if you decided to stay in college instead of perusing the life of a pro rider?
No idea. Probably struggling to use a degree that I didn’t have any interest in or something. Scary to think about kinda.
From back when you first became a pro up through today, how has the role of being a pro rider changed? Do you think it's become more demanding than it used to be?
I think it’s less demanding actually [laughs]. In terms of the street rider, you don’t even have to film real video parts anymore! Lots of dudes (obviously not everyone) just pop off on the gram day after day fucking around. That’s fine I guess but when do you go in? Seems like brands are happy as long as dudes are posting goofy shit every day, bopping around. I’m not the best rider, but I like to think that I put pride into building parts that actually represent my best riding. Guys like Dak, Nathan, Dan Coller, Burns; they’re always pushing for something real. That’s a real pro.
In terms of longevity as a pro, who are some dudes who stand out to you as the epitome of what a pro should be? And why?
Doyle is the first name that comes to my head. Just because of the amount of time we have spent together and how often I’ve seen his professionalism firsthand. From the way he talks to fans, to how down to earth he is, there is no one better. In terms of longevity, other guys like Van, Dak, Corey, Dehart, Biz. They’ve evolved, but they never sacrificed who they are as riders and maintained relevance. That shit is hard to do.
Is there anything you're going to miss about being a pro rider?
I think just the general feeling. That shit is an honor, man. It feels good, it feels cool. I’m so lucky that I got to be a part of it.
Might have spent a year or two in Long Beach drinking a bit much. I had a bad string of injuries one year, combine those with going to the bar too much and my confidence was pretty shot for a while. If I could do it again I would have worked harder to overcome those quicker, to maintain, ya know?
Do you have a goal of always being involved with BMX?
I can’t even fathom not being involved with BMX in some way, shape, or form. Not that it’s a goal, but I just can’t picture it right now. It’s still the biggest part of my life.
Are you looking to do any video work outside of BMX?
Yeah, for sure. I always shied away from that stuff, but over the last few years it’s been fun getting to work on other stuff. The first time I pointed a camera at SXSW I was like “Oh shit this is tight.” Like I knew right away that I wanted to add some variety. Hopefully I can continue to balance BMX with some outside work.
Do you think you'll still film clips of yourself here and there?
For sure. If I'm not filming my riding would just wither away [laughs]. I’m not ready for that whatsoever. I still want to do shit.
You were one of the first riders to really adopt the dual roles of Pro rider and team filmer with your long time sponsor Kink. Was that always your situation with them, or did it slowly evolve into that?
Jay brought me on knowing I could work a camera, but at first Walter [Pieringer] would just film our trips. A year later we decided we wanted to do Safety First and it became official. From then on it was understood that I would take on both roles at the brand. Luckiest guy on Earth.
Was your rider/filmer balance the same with Eclat?
No, and I’m really grateful to Eclat for that. They always had a guy ready to film our trips, which was such a welcome change for me. I like riding street while we’re pedaling. Hopping shit, jumping curbs. No camera bag on those trips felt amazing. They wanted me to just be a pro, it was dope. Thanks, Paul.
While on the topic of filming, you recently traded in your handheld fisheye and a skateboard for a glide cam/gimbal style that. What was your motivation behind that decision to change your gear / filming style?
My views on cameras and filming are always changing. I mainly bought the Ronin for non-BMX stuff, but once I tried it a few times out riding I got really stoked on it. Even after all these years I’m still a terrible skateboarder, so it’s been a nice change and I’ve been stoked on the results. Like I said, though, my mind is always changing; one day I like 4k and the Ronin and the next I miss my VX.
In your sign off Instagram post, you referred to riding as your job--which technically it was--but how often did it really feel like work?
Not often. Riding honestly never feels like a job. Even when I’m three hours deep on a trick, I’m doing it for myself. The thought never crosses my mind that it’s like actual work or something, even though it takes a lot of work. I’m not even sure that makes sense. Filming is different though. Filming definitely feels like a job and it is one, it just happens to be one that I love. But running around for hours on end with the camera rig and hauling the bag through cities can be pretty tough sometimes, I don’t care who you are. It’s worth every second though.
You're going to stay on with Kink as their staff video producer. Does that title entail anything else beyond what you were already doing for the brand?
Mainly just trying to bring more to the table for the brand and create my own initiative to make visuals that represent Kink in the way we all think it should. Working more with our Art Director, Dave Fortman, to create cohesion within the brand, stuff like that. It’s easy for me to forget that these videos are bigger than me and my personal taste sometimes. We all work together to find middle ground on how we think things should look and feel.
And will you be doing any other video work for Eclat?
I’m always willing to work with Eclat, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my Kink schedule. The team is amazing and all super easy to work with. Socialites was really fun to create, those guys rule.
How does it feel knowing that you don't any future obligations as a rider and going forward everything you choose to do on your bike is for you?
It’s kind of cool. I’m still excited to ride and even film when the opportunity presents itself. Riding the way I want to isn’t going to just get switched off like a light, my next session isn’t going to feel any different than it did five years ago. I’m quite looking forward to it, actually--I’m freezing in Jersey right now.
Considering your background and experience as both a rider and filmer, do you have any pro tips for the kids as far as filming, the industry, how to be a pro, etc…
Watch your mouth [laughs]. Really, just keep your head on straight. Large egos don’t have a very welcome place in BMX, at least not in my view. I had lots of good role models coming into this industry, and I learned a lot from guys like Van and Doyle. They showed me how to interact with kids on the road, how to take being a pro seriously, but not be over the top. BMX is small, and the industry is even smaller. Word gets around quick and if you’re a dick you’re just not gonna make it. Humility is everything to me in this game.
Any last words, thanks?
Thank you Ride, for always reaching out to me and helping further myself through riding or filming. Since Insight you guys have been so supportive and that shit means a lot to me. Everyone at Kink, especially the team past and present. None of this probably would have happened without Jay Roe, so most of all, him. Everyone at Eclat, Paul Robinson, especially. Brian Tunney for putting me on. Kyle Carlson for giving me a big shot at Osiris back in the day. Van for helping me early on and always having my back. Navaz for always looking out. All my friends around the world for the countless sessions and laughs. Colt Fake for hooking me up with an X Games medal, and for being a real friend. Stew Johnson for always looking out. The Austin homies for sure, Chase, Sexton, Aaron, Devon, Dugan, everyone. All those guys welcomed me so warmly and made it feel like home almost instantly. My incredible girlfriend Whitney. And of course my family. My mom and dad told me to take those opportunities and I did. My dad loved BMX, and I know how stoked he was on what I was able to do with it. My brother who would probably also be Pro right now if he hadn’t torn his ACL in his riding prime. Everyone who watched my new part or ever got stoked on my riding. Cheers.