An exclusive in-depth chat with all-round good guy and current Best Mountainboard Rider in the Universe, Sir Matthew of Brind…
We last interviewed this hard-working, hard-riding, MBS Pro after he took the World Freestyle Champion title in Russia ’12. Equally happy in a skatepark, in the woods, racing down a track or going big, he’s now also been on tour with Nitro Circus three times, won Overall UK Champ again making it SIX times in a row, taken Gold in the European Downhill Championships and scored first place in the World Boardercross Champs in 2014. Not to mention winning the Belgian Open and smashing loads of French Demos after graduating Uni with a Maths Degree! Champion of the World much?
The Early Days
Hey Matt! thanks for joining us… What’ve you been up to today?
Howdy Rem / Readers! Today I’ve been working, and doing some ATBA business, i.e. had a chat with Roger about resources and medals for next year’s UK series.
Good work.. So let’s go back a few years to the start of all this crazy business.. What were you like as a kid?
Cocky, arrogant and I felt invincible, except when I fell out of a tree – did I tell you about the time I fell out of a tree? (no!) I loved gaming, badminton, squash, cross country and a bit of rugby. Oh and I always wanted to go snowboarding. I was also a bit of a geek, culminating in being Head Boy at school…score!
Haha, somehow that doesn’t surprise us! Did you skate too?
I did a tiny amount, I had a Sonic skateboard and I used to go down my drive weaving around road cones but I stopped after a high speed slam resulting in a full body graze.
Getting used to a bit of pain early is good 🙂 So you’ve been riding these giant big off-road trolley board things since you were 14…
I have indeed, thanks to Tom Kirkman appearing on Top Gear and seeing some people riding in the local woods, I got my first board the day after my 14th birthday.
Cool! Out of interest we (ATBmag crew) were all at the Top Gear studio when that was recorded- Tom was actually interviewed by Clarkson too but they cut it out of the show and just played the VT… It was obviously enough to inspire you though! So where was your first ever go on the board?
My parents driveway! I got the road cones out and used an old table to make a ramp in the garden 😉
Awesome. What board was it you started on and where did you take it to ride?
I had a Kheo Air-S for a couple of months, then I upgraded to an mbs comp 16 (rcc blue eagle 2005 version). We have a couple of spots here in South East Essex, the first which I hit was One Tree Hill, a big open grass slope where I met up with the (sadly disbanded) local crew EAT Dirt who started taking me to RTH XBP every other week or so. We also rode at Hadleigh Castle Country Park of Olympic Mountain Biking fame, and a small wooded area in the next town over.
What about your first comp? where and what were your first events?
My first comp was Haredown 2005, I had been riding a month and entered into the Under 18’s category. I made it down the track in my first time trial with 10psi so I thought I’d push it to 15psi for my second, which was a mistake….I was later informed about something called butt pads haha I was super stoked to come 41st out of 43 riders!
Next up, a month later, was UK Round 2 at Coastal. Qualified 34th out of 41 riders I think.
After that I didn’t compete again until 2006, when I joined the circuit full time!
Check these photos from that time, by Daz & John Dirt Monkey from the ATBA-UK Series in 2006, including Coastal and Court Farm…
What do you think when you look back at these old pics?
Haha! Those stupid big race jerseys! What were Skeleton Coast (and lots of others!) thinking? Also oh man i was still in hiking boots! Love the pic of me racing Rhys Crilley and Max Jones – I have no memory of that race but i do remember i jumped over Tom K twice that weekend, haha i felt super cool. Go 15 year old me 🙂 Kids these days are ridiculously good… “
That time, the mid-noughties, was the freestylin’ acronym days, and you started riding with the prolific BFC, ATC, and PD (Project Documentation) crews…
Indeed, I somehow ended up hanging out with a few crews and got to go on some cool trips around the place! PD was certainly my main crew of riders at the time, especially once I started University and moved to Guildford, I was only 40 minutes from ‘the Playground’!
Ah, stuff of myth and legend.. How were the dynamics between the groups of friends, and who was influencing who with riding then?
Everyone, as you would expect, was super friendly and everyone brought different things to the groups. Every group was different in their approach to the sport, but all loved it.
It probably goes without saying, but Tom Kirkman and pretty much the whole ATC crew were an influence on everyone’s riding back then and they kept a lot of people psyched on the sport and eagerly awaited their newest edits to be posted. The style and technicality is something I’d still love to emulate!
I’ve always loved riding with Josh Maddocks and Ben Rye as well. Ben brings so much energy it’s hard not to be pumped or excited around him, and Josh is just one hell of a cool guy with insane amounts of style, always a pleasure to watch.
Yep. What happened to the Deck manufacture plans you guys had then? There was going to be a PD ‘Pro-Dek’ wasn’t there?
Yes but a lack of a business plan and snapping cores made them non-viable in the end. Though it was cool to research into manufacture, like deck construction, thinking about graphics and generally playing around making a few! Really interesting stuff, I learnt a lot.
What type of riding you were doing then, and what were you fave tricks in the earlier days?
It’s always been a big mix. Back in those days it was mostly skateparks and freestyle though, we’d often go to SOBA Wednesdays at Haredown and cruise around. That was probably when I was best at switch – I used to love cab 3 stalefish tweakers and funky grabbed cab 5s. Switch bs 180 nose grabs have always been fun too.
Nicely illustrated in this typically cool Project Doc vid… Theo Acworth gave this description: “Here is a little edit showing us (mainly Matt) riding some of the new features at The Playground, and wandering around at Haredown. It’s hard to tell when Matt is in switch, so keep an eye out as a lot of his stuff is sick. Also Ben rode way too hard and snapped a deck and a truck, so had some fun teaching girl scouts how to ride!”
You quickly became known as The Duracell Bunny coz you just kept going and going, you seem to be able to just keep riding when others stop!? –
I’ve always been more of an endurance athlete than an explosive one – dem slow twitch muscles be the ones to blame – having been a cross-country runner at school. I would also partly blame my P.E. teachers for teaching and unlocking massive amounts of determination and perseverance in me. (I’m still arrogant it seems…) Plus I’ve always been competitive, and most of all with myself – I’m not happy until I do something ‘perfect’ or I beat my best. That and mountainboarding is awesome, why would/how could I stop?
So, you were riding loads, practising, getting better, and going bigger. Joining the MBS Europe team for demos (like The Ski & Board Show ’07) must have been cool…
Super cool! That was my first big public demo. Wild dreams of becoming a ‘Pro rider’ and riding with legends like Tom Kirkman, Alex Downie and Arno VDV were starting to come true!
Andy Potter made quite an interesting snakes & ladders game at that demo where you had to land the trick on the square to stay on said square – fortunately I was paired with the Mighty Joe Dickson, so I won a t-shirt that became my riding top for the next year or so haha.
What was the first event you went abroad for and how did it inspire you?
That would be the 2008 Belgium Open, we hit it as part of the BFC 2008 tour for the ‘We’ll Apologise Later’ DVD. Wanyi, and the tour in general, totally inspired me to push myself to help make the DVD as good as it could be. That was where I landed my first 720s and I went toe to toe with the mythical Ollie Morrison and Tuai Lovejoy. 2008 was a great year.
By the way what are your favourite mountainboard films?
How do you find putting edits together yourself?
A challenge. I’m not a creative person, I never know what song to use and I don’t really know how to edit. Mix that with zero desire to learn and you have a terrible concoction haha. I only do it because I feel like I should, although I’m starting to palm off footage/edit making onto friends 😛
How is being in another country with other riders? Do you let your riding do the talking or are you good with languages as well as maths?
Other languages make absolutely no sense to me. I try not to be a classic Brit ala saying ‘Do you speak English?’ loudly. I still only know a word or two in other languages, but I think I’m getting better communicating with foreign riders? You’ll have to ask them haha. To my Russian homies – ‘Bohze Moi’, to the Italians – ‘Sparta is SBELLATO’! (I hope I spelt that right!) .
Bueno patatas senor Brind haha.. So how did all this awesome wheelieboarding stuff happening affect you while making decisions about the future at school then Uni?
Mountainboarding didn’t have much of an affect on my studies. Learning to drive totally freed me and I spent, and pretty much still spend, every penny I had (/have) on going riding. Exams or coursework deadlines never put me off of a mountainboard event, I’d just find the time elsewhere to get the work done. I think not being much of a drinker really helped with time and funds to shred.
True dat. Not being a massive mash-head means you can get lots done!
Mountainboarding only started causing some havoc with Uni when Nitro Circus and the broken jaw tour came along – I had to skip the first semester in my final year and re-do it a year later, friendless. Also, the UK tour of tiredness was wrapped around exams. If I remember right I had an exam Tuesday in Guildford, show Tuesday night in Manchester, show Thursday night in Birmingham, exam Friday lunchtime in Guildford, shows Friday and Saturday night in London and then a show in Glasgow Sunday night. Plus an exam Tuesday and show in Arnhem, Holland, Wednesday. To make it worse, I was driving to each show (except Arnhem, that was plane, train and skate pushing to the stadium). 1600 miles driven, 8 days, 6 shows, 4 exams, several trains and a plane flight….. And only one exam was below par so that was a result!
That is just crazy mental. Basically, we have no idea how you found time to do it all, work & study, have a girlfriend, and be a ‘pro mountainboarder’! Guess it’s a constant juggling act… has it all just come pretty naturally?
I tend to wing it and somehow it works out. It is quite a juggling act, but Lei really helped when I was at Uni and on placement in Bristol by coming to visit faaar more than I visited home and by coming along to events and generally being super supportive of everything I wanted to do.
Lucky boy. And how have you found sponsorship? You’re MBS’ most high-flying Pro for sure, and you also got EZO clothing and those sunglasses hey?
Sponsorship is cool. Tom Kirkman actually recommended me to AJ Waktins back at Green Man 2006 UK series comp which got me insanely stoked and excited!
With EZO Brand I decided to be cheeky – it was the last demo of the Bestival weekend in 2011 so I figured I had nothing to lose so I asked if I could have one of their t-shirts to rep them in the demo and they obliged. A double backflip later I was whisked off to their tent to write down my details and take some more merch!
Dirty Dog was all Lei, one of their reps went into the Ski and Surf shop she works in and they got talking about me and I got a couple of free pairs. Unfortunately it didn’t go any further (I’m still awaiting a reply from the team manager), but it’s cool to see brand reps getting stoked on the sport.
Sure, it would be nice to see more crossover brands represented…
Now I’m starting to look into sponsorship with a more critical eye on myself, and look at exactly what the ‘bigger’ brands and potential sponsors would want from a team rider so I’m trying to fit into those roles before putting myself out there. I think that taking a low cost, low risk approach of a couple tees a month or similar would entice them in and then we can show what we can do, and up the ante after if/when they think we’re worth it! I want to get a foot in the door and pry it open for others to follow; we’ll only get bigger and more publicity working together!
So it’s cool but you have to make sure you give back more than you receive to keep yourself in there and to show yourself and the sport off in the best light to the company. Anyone who is looking for or wants to get sponsored needs to remember that. Lots of opportunities have been missed/lost because the sponsor hasn’t received enough, in some case anything, in return!
Getting more involved
I remember late noughties you started freeriding more and entering the Downhill comps to expand your riding skill set, probably after being badgered by Roger S haha..
I can’t remember who got me back into the woods, I’ve always dabbled here and there from the start but once the Downhill comps started to count towards the Overall rankings then I was in haha, competition whore that I am.
You said it not us lol. When was it you joined the ATBA-UK organising team? How did you get roped into that, Rog again?
Actually it was Jamie Johnstone’s Mum at the 2009 AGM – the ATBA-UK needed a Treasurer and she said to me ‘You’re about to start a Maths degree, you’re good with numbers aren’t you? I nominate Matt’, and it was done. Time flies!
It sure does. I guess the love of spreadsheets is something that really helped…
The love of spreadsheets came later, the love of mountainboarding helped most 🙂
Lei helps out a lot with the ATBA stuff too. As we said, You’re lucky to have such an understanding girlfriend, and one that is into the scene too! Guess she doesn’t have much of a choice though haha..
Super lucky, it’s great that we share a passion for actions sports (she came from windsurfing) but you are right, she doesn’t have a choice haha. It’s awesome that Lei loves the sport and the people almost as much as I do 😉 Aren’t I a such catch?!?! Lucky girl, I’m sure I drive her mental.
No doubt! You’re also great with the groms & newbies…
Aww thanks! Cliche, kids are out future! If I can motivate one person to ride, I’ve accomplished something great. Some of the talent coming through the Groms and Juniors is insane, and every single one of them has a great attitude and mentality and they’re all good friends, it’s awesome to see!
How have you found competing in the comps as well working – like trying to sort out timing, having constant issues, compiling results, always having to hold a clipboard, megaphone, radio mic blah blah?
It can be quite a challenge, and I definitely struggled at the start back in 2011 and especially ‘12, but now, thanks to having a great team of volunteers, everything is becoming easier and less time and thought intensive. Plus spreadsheets rule 😉 I still struggle to get a practice run in BoarderX and Downhill, but that’s probably more down to me being a control freak and not leaving the tent to ride until everything is done and running! The organising side is never off my mind either while I’m competing which can be distracting haha.
I do enjoy it though, it’s very rewarding putting on a good event and even at events I’m not organising I can’t help but stick my nose in and try to help out haha. I would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone in the ATBA-UK and all the volunteers for helping out and putting on the UK series – it wouldn’t happen without you!
We know you’re dedicated to this lark and do loads of admin, comps, n stuff as well as actually getting shedloads of runs in. Practice. Is it your organizational, logical mind that keeps you on it, or is there a physical ‘adrenaline junkie’ addiction?
Mostly the mountainboard addiction/obsession. I itch to ride. I hate having to go periods of time not on a board. It’s always on my mind and I’m always mulling something over, whether it’s a new trick, a new way to run a comp, a new feature for a spreadsheet/park/track/video or just figuring out where I went wrong on a run or what event/comp I’m going to next and how to get there. I really struggle to switch off sometimes….Music really helps turn that silly brain off.
We know the feeling, I think we too may be slightly addicted to this sh!t haha..
You do travel a helluva lot with it though. Going to Moscow and taking the World Freestyle Championship in 2012 must’ve been awesome…
Moscow was a great trip with a lot of great people. Winning the title was one of my most memorable moments. I had only just started drinking a little bit back then, Russian vodka is strong and Joe Dickson is even more hilarious drunk! The comp had it all, super hot, super sunny, heavy rain, big injuries, amazing people, great freestyle, skatepark sessions and smiles not to mention a really cool crowd of spectators.
Another great thing were your BBC TV appearances, on CBBC show ‘Friday Download’ and later ‘Wild’ for under 16’s! What was it like doing those?
It was pretty cool, the ‘Friday Download’ one was a bit odd and I didn’t enjoy it all that much (especially after the editing!) but I think it made mountainboarding look pretty good. ‘Wild’ was great, a really nice experience. I’m still trying to get the clip online so keep your eyes peeled, but I think it was a really good piece on mountainboarding and explored the cross-over to snowboarding. Plus Tim Warwood is pretty hilarious.
In 2013 we saw you take freestyle trickery to a new place; You’d been chasing the Nitro Circus people to appear on the tour with them for a while, was that the spur on to practise even harder and nail the double-back and more?
To be honest, my motivation to do the double was that I wanted to be the first person to land it on a mountainboard. I’m not going to lie, I had built myself up to do it for a while and it was pretty hard when I heard Andy (Milenkovic) got it and I was really pleased for the guy but I was disappointed for myself.
Yeah but it wasn’t long before you got it nailed, as documented in Dylan Warren’s Tour Lyfe Episode 4; there’s you, nervous, but getting the double-backflip totally nailed at The Maddocks Compound.
It’s pretty mad actually to think that almost everything you do on wheels is recorded!
That definitely wasn’t the way I had planned to get it done haha! Non-ideal conditions on a small jump – looking back I probably wouldn’t have done it then or there but I just had to do it. It’s good everything is recorded, I’d forget I’d done it otherwise! Constant documentation helps me to re-live it all, which is cool.
Life is a Project in Documentation haha.. So, what about getting into ‘The Circus’?
For getting onboard with Nitro I had a kind-of plan – spend the Summer stacking footy for a good promo, then win the World Freestyle Championships to ‘legitimise’ my attempt and separate me from thousands of others who send vids in… Fortunately it all worked!
We love it when a plan comes together! It all seemed to happen really quickly…
I definitely couldn’t complain! I remember i’d sent various Nitro streams a message with my promo vid, went to bed, and then got possibly the best email ever at 4am (they’re based in Oz) talking about maybe taking me to London for a tryout.
Instead, they then almost immediately decided to fly me to Stockholm to tryout for the whole tour! Later that day I was on the phone to the Athlete Manager and making plans to get out there. I had to meet with the Head of Undergraduate Maths at my Uni to defer the semester, and two weeks later I was in Stockholm on tour with the whole crew!
Rock n roll… A dream come true, real quick… Must have been surreal!
Yes even the start of the tour was hectic and happening fast – I only got 5 runs in before my first two shows, which were separated by only two hours. Naturally I tried a 900 and a double in the second show, and my body was very sore the next day!
Also 65 steps to the top of the roll in takes it out of you, especially when you have to run back across the stadium and up the steep stairs, strap in and almost immediately drop in again!
However, hitting the big ramp in front of thousands of screaming people with fireworks going off around my head was awesome. I knew this was great, not just for me but to get mountain boards in front of a much bigger audience…
Although i promptly hit reality a week later, when, only four shows down, my face broke in practice…”
Fist bumps to Matt & all the Photographic & Video contributors to this article.