The Friday Interview: Robbie Morales & Talk is Cheap

It’s been a hell of a journey for Robbie Morales and his Cult brand. Starting from ground zero once again after departing his previous position at Fit Bike Company, Morales has truly built his brand from the ground up with a team and support staff that couldn’t be happier to be involved. With a full line of frames, parts, completes, a promo DVD, countless acclaimed web video projects and so much more behind them in their short past, Cult has moved from being simply a “hot new brand” and turned a leaf into being a full fledged company, almost on autopilot at the top. 

For a while, not much could be said about Morales or the new Cult brand without being entirely surrounded by controversial, extreme, and prophetic “make it or break it” statements from observers. Whether it be anonymous commenters on the internet or “industry insiders,” it seemed like everyone in BMX suddenly became a business analyst and began pick apart the brand’s every move. Two and a half years later, the chatter has come full circle once again to “how did he do it?” as opposed to “this is why he is going to fail.” Today, there is no more talk about Morales and Cult failing.  There is only talk of what they are doing and where they are going and for some bike companies, “how the hell do we stop it?” Love it or hate it, Cult is a serious force in the BMX world-far from their modest beginnings with a frame, bars, and a few soft goods. 

With the release of the highly acclaimed Talk is Cheap promo (which is sitting near fifty thousand views as I type this) and a good personal rapport with Robbie , I figured the time was right to cruise to Santa Ana and get the low down from Robbie on the DVD’s progress, the roles of Ryan Navazio and Adam Roye, the prospects of another Cult/Federal tour, and more. 

Interview and intro by Andrew Brady
Photos by Jeff Zielinski

How long has it been since Talk is Cheap officially started?
We’re currently a little over a year and a half of filming. It’s not to the point where it’s a project that’s taking long at all-in fact; some of the guys really haven’t had enough time so far. So we’ve got a little bit of work to do, but I’m thinking mid summer is totally realistic. I think the way the Cult videos lay out is pretty natural. We don’t get too strict on deadlines because it just puts a lot of stress on the project and the end result looks a little contrived. So we’ve been pretty chill about the whole thing.

Chase Hawk has no problem getting down with the pegs whenever he feels like it.

Navaz (Ryan Navazio) has been in the mix since day one. How was he picked to be your guy?
We definitely gotta give all the video credit to Navaz, especially the aesthetic. He knew early on what we were looking for and it grew organically from the riders. The top guys- Chase Hawk, Chase Dehart, and Dakota Roche, they trust filming with him so that’s a huge deal. When a rider can trust the filmer when he’s out there risking his life, that’s half the battle right there. They definitely choose Navaz time and time again so it’s just worked out naturally.

The Cult team trusts this man--Ryan Navazio and his VX1000.

Has anyone else been helping out with the filming?
It’s pretty random. As long as the clip is good enough, we try not to turn it away, but there is a high standard. Navaz knows what’s good. We’re lucky to have him quarterbacking the whole thing.

Navaz was living down in Austin this winter-did that make things easier?
Austin was definitely the winter spot, last year it was Cali…this year it was Austin and just having such a chill place to send team riders and have them enjoy that life for a little bit was good. Hawk’s there, Russ and Krone…Timmy and Bobby enjoyed it…even Dehart went. So that was really good. It’s a really easy city to enjoy BMX, for sure.

You might recognize this wallride Russ Barone is doing from the Talk Is Cheap promo that just dropped.

How are you going to roll this thing out, premiere wise?
I definitely want to do three major premieres-one in Cali, one in Austin and one in New York. Then of course some shop premieres. We’ve got a few things in the works that could affect how it all pans out. We’re super passionate about DVDs and we’re going to have a book to go along with it that Adam Roye’s been getting done and I think having that finished product in your hands is going to be the moment that makes the whole project worth it. I think using mediums like we do…VX, the Super8 and all the processing fees that go along with it and actually doing a DVD and paying for that is kinda rare now a days but it’s an art form and a medium that we believe strongly in, so we’re gonna stick to it no matter how much noise is made on the web. We’re going to make our own noise our way and I think to this point, we’ve done that with Cult. We want to keep consistent with that.

You mentioned Adam Roye, who keeps way more behind the scenes-what role has he played in the DVD and what role does he play overall with the brand?
I like that Adam has an eye for what looks good and that translates into the whole brand and giving it that edge that I think is needed. He created the logo for the DVD and it’s so fucking cool. People get it tattooed on their bodies, that’s proof enough right there.

Who on the team have Talk is Cheap tattoos so far?
Shit…it’s crazy. Dehart and Dak…Joe Vee, Nick Seabasty, Nate Richter…There’s a few, man. It’s pretty cool, just the fact that people are just backing it that hard and are passionate about the brand and what we’re doing. That’s the main point of doing projects like this. We’re doing it for the riders. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. These guys are going out and doing all these tricks and obviously it’s satisfying to get a clip-but at the same time, they know the finished product is going to motivate other riders to ride more and I think that’s a large part of the reason they go so hard. So if we can continue to translate that through the brand, it’s an exciting time. You know that the final product is going to be pure motivation and inspiration.

Dakota Roche, locked and loaded with a kinker hanger.

I was really psyched on the Cult/Federal tour that went down last year. Two different brands that aren’t necessarily married together going on tour was really cool in my eyes. Is there going to be another one in 2012?
We’re definitely gonna do another Cult/Federal trip. The Federal/Seventies crews are buddies of ours to begin with so to be able to get on the road with them in the UK was so good. It was just such a rad country with so many spots…that went so well last year that we definitely want to do it again.

Are you going to go back to the UK or head elsewhere?
We’re definitely going to do the UK again, but there’s all sorts of talk. Obviously everyone’s trying to get to Spain and possibly France…we really just need to get through Talk Is Cheap and then we’ll get there.

Chase Dehart, tailwhip.

Last question-you’re fully established as a brand and past all the drama that stemmed from the beginning of the company. Especially after Talk is Cheap, you’ll be writing a new chapter-where is Cult going from here?
We need to get out more on the road and do what we do best, which is just ride with the homies. We just want to travel more, meet new people and cultivate people in the right direction. BMX is in a crazy spot right now…I know we say it all the time, but it’s never been bigger but at the same time, never been smaller. So the song remains the same-we’re just here to try and make it sound better.

Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap
Talk Is Cheap