Bilko Berserko: Keeping It Global With Blake Williams
Photos Courtesy Of Nitro Circus
Blake “Bilko” Williams does not require much of an introduction. The Australian born FMX athlete, X Games gold medalist, and Nitro Circus Live madman has been around the world from city to city performing shows in front of sold out crowds at a grueling pace unfit for the faint of heart. Although the Nitro Circus Live tour is currently on break before kicking off its 2013 European shows early in November, Bilko will be jumping back into competition this weekend as the X Games hits Munich, Germany. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get ahold of the 2009 FMX Rider Of The Year, so when the opportunity arose, we had to jump on it.
Fill us in on what you’ve been up to so far in 2013.
It’s been flat out so far! I’ve done 20 Nitro Circus Live shows already this year in Australia and New Zealand and we’re about to head to Macau for our first ever show in Asia.
When did you start the Nitro Circus Live tour? How did it all come about?
I started with Nitro in 2010 for the first tour of Australia and I’ve been on every one since. I worked with the Aussie promoter that used to run other live shows and the SuperX series. He go together with Godfrey Entertainment and Travis and turned it into a live show… it’s pretty damn wild!
What was your first impression of Travis Pastrana’s creation when you first heard about it?
Well I’ve been doing live shows all over the world for nine years now, and it’s pretty much organized chaos. But throw Travis in the mix, a bunch of crazy BMX, skate and FMX guys in one arena, add loud music, some pyro and a shitload of screaming fans and you never know what’s going to happen.
For someone who has never seen the show, how would you briefly sum it up to explain it?
Well you’ve got the world’s best action sports athletes performing choreographed segments like trains on the FMX ramps where around 12 riders land on the one ramp. Then there’s the biggest individual tricks like double grab flips, 360’s and double backflips as well as the BMX, skate and contraption guys throwing huge tricks on the Gigant-A-Ramp. The Gigant-A-Ramp is a resi so those guys will try huck stuff every show, triple flips, double front-flip combos, you name it and they can do it. And then we have Wheelz (Aaron Fotheringham) who front flips his wheel chair over 35 feet!
How does preparing for a choreographed freestyle show differ from getting ready for competition?
It’s more cruise’y because there is less pressure. It’s more about riding together as a group, so the trains and syncro parts are timed right, but you also want to ride well for the fans and if you miss a trick it’s pretty embarrassing.
Does working with the tour help you innovate new tricks and improve your freestyle game?
It’s cool because we all ride together in practice and help each other out and push each other all the time. There have been a fair few crazy tricks to come out of Nitro Circus Live shows. Back in the day though I wish I saved a few for X games instead [laughs].
Performing all over the World, how does the reception of the tour change from country to country?
Well Australia and New Zealand love it. Last year was our first tour in Europe and it was really successful so we’ll be heading back there in November and December. It’s a well rounded show aimed at people of all ages so it would be pretty hard to think someone would walk away disappointed. Even on nights where some riders may be injured or not throwing a certain trick, everyone just steps up and does what they need to do to get the job done. The whole crew is amazing.
What’s been the craziest show so far?
The Gold Coast show we did in Australia this year was crazy; I’m pretty sure every single person rode out of every trick, which never happens! Last year in the Netherlands we did a show in front of 28,000 people, our biggest ever… then we went to Amsterdam after it. So yeah that was crazy all round [laughs].
What’s the best story you have from traveling from city to city with the Nitro Circus crew?
[Laughs] Hmmm, story time ay. Well the back of the bus is always pretty funny, smash some beers, drinking games, story time, crop dusting… it all happens. With such a big group always together nothing is ever a secret! Sometimes you’ll see a chick doing the walk of shame out of the hotel and it only takes about 15 minutes to figure out where she came from. So if you take home a grenade and think no one will know… think again [laughs].
We hear you will be competing in X Games Munich at the end of the month. When was the last time you competed and which events will you be doing?
Yeah, I’m heading to Munich! It was hard to prepare with it being winter in Australia so I only got to ride on Saturdays at Nitro, but I’ll be doing FMX in Munich and looking to build some momentum for LA. Last time I competed was Dew Tour in San Fran last year, but my flight got delayed six hours and I missed all practice, which was a bummer!
Have you been to Munich before?
Yeah, I rode X-Fighters there last year. I did some sightseeing with my body guard Dr G, and drank a few steins of beer and that’s all she wrote.
What is your opinion of the X Games switching to multiple stops?
It’s good and bad. My Nitro Circus commitments meant I missed the first two, and the travel is pretty damn expensive along with finding a bike and everything. So the prize money only just covers that depending on how you do.
Do you enjoy competing or touring more?
I like competing, but I do play it a bit safer than I used to. For me it was either on the podium or in an ambulance for a few years so I’ve tried to calm down a bit. I love touring because of its relaxed approach. I want to ride my best every time I perform, but I don’t want to have five guys with a clip board and a pen dictating how I go, determining if I win or lose and what my paycheck is going to be. It’s also a great time to be traveling with some of my best mates all over the globe, we definitely have some mad times!
What do you do when you get some downtime away from your dirt bike?
Hmm… there isn’t too much down time, I’ve done a show 23 of the 26 weekends so far this yea. I’ve also been working with my old man back home, doing some freeride filming for a couple Monster videos and playing FIFA with my mate Bocka Billiards.
What can we expect from Blake “Bilko” Williams in the years to come?
If I had a crystal ball I would tell you!
Anything else you want to add?
Shout out to Monster Energy, Shift, Fox, Oakley, Kicker and Pro Taper! Yew!
Clap ya hands stomp ya feet.. make some noise for the boys!
To get tickets to the upcoming Nitro Circus North American tour, kicking off in January, head on over to this link: http://nitrocircuslive.com/north-american-tour-2014/
For more details about Nitro Circus Live, http://nitrocircuslive.com/