Mountain Biking

Danny MacAskill Interview

His meteoric rise made him the most famous mountain biker in the world. But as he tells Mpora, Danny MacAskill is still learning to enjoy his rock star status...

Danny tackling a big drop in Argentina.

The Argentinian town (from which his latest video takes its name) was flooded in 1985 when the nearby lake burst its banks, only to re-emerge from the water 20 years later as a ghostly ruin.

“I think I saw it on a blog about two years ago,” Danny says. “I spend my time looking at strange things online” he laughs. “You get loads of it off Facebook now, you know ‘10 most amazing places in the world’ or whatever.”

“Anyway I read a bit more about the town and I was like: ‘How has no-one been here and made an amazing time-lapse video of the place?’”

“I spend my time looking at strange things online”

After his previous video Imaginate, a project which he says “became so huge it almost drove all of us mad,” Danny was keen to do something a bit simpler. To make a return to his garage rock roots following that high-budget concept album as it were.

And in Epecuén he thought he’d found the perfect place.

Danny scoping Epecuen – it’s certainly not short of spots!.

“I know from previous experience that it’s much easier to go to one location and focus all your attention on one place. I felt like Epecuén definitely justified being the centre of one video.”

So he teamed up once again with Dave Sowerby (a man who “likes to keep things as simple as possible”) and headed out with just a small team, of six friends.

“It was,” he says “by far the best filming trip I’ve ever been on in my life. The place is just so crazy and we had so much fun.”

This shines through in the finished video, which although it contains its fair share of ground-breaking riding is as much about the town itself and its incredible landscape.

“I’d always wanted to try a bump frontflip.”

“I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to make a better film than previous stuff,” he says. “Going to Epecuén I wanted to keep it as chilled as possible.”

“Riding wise I had a few things in mind, like I’d always wanted to try a bump frontflip. But mostly I wanted to just make a really cool-feeling video that kind of captured the place.”

The bump frontflip is one of the brand new tricks MacAskill debuts in the video

By the sounds of things, this return to his roots reaped rewards not just in terms of the finished product (which despite being the punk rock to Imaginate’s prog is still highly polished) but also in terms of the whole experience.

He tells the story of the old man who features in the trailer and the introduction as an example.

“You’d see him drinking his mate, smoking a pipe, and he’s got this Mad Max style jeep that he cuts about in. You couldn’t make him up!”

“From reading on these blogs I found out that the only resident of Epecuén was Pablo Novak. And we kind of thought ‘how cool would it be to get him involved in the film in some way?’ Then we got there and he was so cool. Like you couldn’t make him up.”

Danny chats to Pablo Novak, Epecuen’s only resident.

“He’s 85 years old living there with his dog. You’d see him in the morning sitting by the side of the road drinking his mate, smoking a pipe.”

“He’s got this Mad Max style jeep that he cuts about in. And his bike, we didn’t show it, but you should’ve seen the way it stops. He’s got no brakes so he’d actually do a foot jam to stop!” He laughs again.

What’s next?

So having finished this latest big project, what’s next for this unassuming rock star rider? Having been plagued by injury in the past (including a long-term back issue) he’s happy to be fit and healthy at the moment.

“In the last five years I’ve been off my bike for three of them, which is quite frustrating. But at the moment I’m feeling stronger than ever.”

But before he embarks on another major project, he’s heading off on tour.

Danny posted this picture of the Drop and Roll trailer on his Facebook the other day.

“I’m putting together this new team called Drop and Roll,” he explains. “We’ll be going to music festivals or things like the Formula One to do shows, and I really want to have a full-time filmer involved and be producing loads of smaller, kind of fun videos.”

“Before he embarks on another major project, he’s heading off on tour.”

It sounds like a pretty good way to spend the summer, I say. “Aye it’ll be good fun to be on the road with friends making fun videos and having a good time.”

“But our first show is in Baden on June 1st, so while I’m out here sunning myself in Monaco my friends are slaving away in rainy Scotland trying to get the rig together.

So I feel a bit guilty about that,” he adds, self-effacing as ever.

Danny Rides off into the sunset.

I’m sure they can’t be too resentful, I tell him as I sign off.

After all, it’s his years of hard work (not to mention his mercurial talent) that have created all these opportunities in the first place. Surely no one would begrudge him his time in the sun?

Watch Epecuén here, and head to the Red Bull website for an interactive map and behind the scenes extras.

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