Travis Pastrana INTERVIEW: Life on tour with Nitro Circus
Travis Pastrana has 17 X Games medals across a host of sports, countless world records and has just filmed and released his new movie, Action Figures, but the extreme sports legend is not showing any signs of slowing down.
On the back of a hugely successful world tour with Nitro Circus this year, Pastrana and friends are getting ready to hit the road again, bringing their biggest ever live show to Europe once again in 2016.
We sat down with him in London to find out how he does it!
Q. Welcome back to Europe! How excited are you for the upcoming tour?
“It’s pretty cool because Europe is a tough market for us, it’s not huge on action sports. It’s got a lot of motorcycle culture and background and people kind of understand it, but in New Zealand about 80% of the population comes out over two weeks. The population’s not that big but everyone out there knows about us. Streetbike Tommy is walking down the street and 70-year-old grandmas are like ‘yeah, Streetbike Tommy!'
“But coming to the O2 Arena in London and having it sell out so we have to have a second show is a really big thing for us. It shows that people who have seen the show like it and are coming back. We’re just trying to build that audience and trying to show a new area what action sports is all about.”
Q. Has the popularity of actions sports improved since you first brought Nitro Circus to Europe?
“The popularity is definitely growing without a doubt. For us it’s pretty neat to see we have almost half the people who go to one show come back to the next. It depends on country to country though. In Switzerland it sells out and there’s real energy and excitement, but then we go to Germany and the crowd is a lot quieter.
It’s our goal to make sure by the end of the show everyone is on their feet.
“I don’t know if it’s the culture or it doesn’t translate as well, but it’s out goal to go to each area and understand what works and what doesn’t. We go to some places where they might not get it as much and it’s our goal to make sure by the end of that show everyone is on their feet.”
Q. What can fans, old and new, expect from the new tour?
“As far as the tricks go, they get bigger and better every show. Two years ago when we came, the finale tricks are literally your first round tricks now. Action sports has progressed that fast and our ramps have progressed that fast and it’s a real honour to be able to work with the best in the world, that are constantly upping the game.
“There will be some of the old contraptions, but mostly new ones. If anything works too long we take it out and replace it with something that we’re not sure is going to work! I think the crowd really like that part - the unknown, the unexpected. We’re pulling more people out of the crowd now, which is kind of scary, but it’s trying to give people what they want.”
Q. What do you think will be the highlight of the European Tour?
“Ryan Williams is a highlight all the way through. From his first trick to the end, he’s doing tricks that no one else in the world is doing. What’s really interesting is that you’ve got some guys in Nitro that are really taking the flair approach, the style, the charisma. We always thought it was a competition - if we give them the best tricks, they’ll love it.
"But that’s not always the case. Guys like Dusty Wygle get some of the biggest crowd responses on boogie boards, because he’s charismatic and he has that passion and energy. The crowd can see when he lands, that excitement, and that ‘anything-is-possible’ kind of attitude is contagious.”
Q. You’re constantly touring, making movies and travelling the world. How do you do it all?
“On tour is the best time for my family. It got a little bit more challenging with two kids, just because one of them always seems to be up so my wife got a lot less sleep on this last tour than she would have liked. It’s pretty cool for us to do it as a family. Everything’s taken care of for us on tour, so it really simplifies our life, but the hardest part is press tours, because I’ll travel from country to country and state to state and it almost works with Lyndsey, but even that is kind of hard, and with two kids it’s nearly impossible. I enjoy the places like Australia and New Zealand that always sell out and we don’t have to do press because then I get to stay home more. But Europe is getting there for sure.
My dad always said: ‘Look, you’re going to miss some family time, but ride it until the wheels fall off.'
"It’s tough but my dad always said ‘look, you’re going to miss some family time, but ride it until the wheels fall off. The rest of us wake up every morning at 5am, go to work, work our arses off until it’s dark, so we don’t have a lot of time to have a lot of fun. You’ve got to make it work and do the best you can. My dad was in the military and some military guys don’t get a chance to ever come home."
Q. When you do get a break, how do you like to spend your down time?
“There isn’t a lot of down time! But if there is, the only time I get a break, it’s time to go in the office and work on editing and building ramps and planning. But at the end of the day, we all love what we do so when I’m not riding for a living I’m riding for fun and the same thing with my wife.
Q. Riders have been landing loads of world firsts at your house this year. What can we expect to see at Pastranaland next?
“What the house provides is all these different take offs and different ramps and if anyone wants to learn anything they can call us up. We can change anything on the spot, we’ve got big landings, small landings, dirt landings, resi landings, bag landings. You can step process your way through it.
“Josh Sheehan didn’t have one single crash, no broken bones or anything [when he landed the world's first triple backflip]. That’s only possible through progression, and also two years of practice. R-Willy didn’t like the bag but that’s R-Willy and we believe him. He’s always been able to do things in the past and even when he crashes he doesn’t get hurt.”