Blake Wharton is best known as the long-haired racer from Texas, but the Rockstar Energy Racing rider is also a pretty accomplished musician. We've always known that Blake dabbled in guitar and drums, but when BMXer Joey Cordova released his new Trail Boss single, "Let's Ride" this week, we were surprised to learn that Wharton has a guest-starring role in the song.
A few days after his heart-breaking loss at the Indianapolis Supercross, we phoned Wharton up to compliment him on his vocal role in "Let's Ride," and also so learn more about his music addiction and get his thoughts about his last-lap misfortune at Indy...
Hey Blake, we bought the Trail Boss single when we learned that you were part of it. Congrats!
Thanks! I think it came out very well. Some people in the industry...I don't know if they understand it or if they think that Joey and I are doing if for a reason, but we just do it because we enjoy doing it and it's fun. I met Joey through Randy Lawrence, and we got to talking about music one day and we found out that we both have a common interest in it, so we said, "We should jam sometime," and we did!
How much of your day-to-day life revolves around your music? A professional racer doesn't have a lot of extra time…
Every racer has something that they do for fun outside of riding and training: some guys go ride go-karts, some guys go to the beach and surf, some guys ride bikes, and myself, I've been playing music since I was 14 so its always been music for me. People always say Wharton's doing that music thing but he needs to spend more time riding but everybody has off time, and I just spend it doing something different. Many of the guys race; that's all that they do and that's all that they know how to do and its kind of a bummer because growing up, everybody is home-schooled and they barely finish home school. Of all sports, motocrossers are the most behind with education and social skills. Football and basketball players have to go to high school and college where the play before they make it into the pros, but with motocross, most of us drop out to get home schooled so we can ride full time.
I know that you play the guitar and you've spoken about drums before, but how many instruments do you play?
I don't really consider myself to be a master of all these instruments and I would love to have the time to go and get guitar lessons and bass lessons and voice lessons, but right now I am on a schedule. For instance, today I was up at 7:30 a.m. and it's 8:30 p.m. right now and I'm not even home yet. So tonight I wont have much time to play my guitar. I play guitar; mostly acoustic guitar, and I have a 12 string guitar. I started playing the bass but I'm not a master. I feel like I'm a pretty good song writer, and I have taken voice lessons.
Have you always had a good voice or did you learn how to sing through lessons?
I think when I hurt my shoulder in 2011 and I went in to have surgery after Supercross ended, and I had all this time on my hands so I was like, "I want to do something productive." I had been playing guitar and I sang before, but I never really had lessons to sing, so I met a guy and he taught voice and guitar, so began taking a bunch of voice lessons trying to figure it out and so that's something that I just began in 2011. When we were younger my sister sang, played the harp and the piano, so I grew up around it but had never really done it because with amateur racing, you can't do anything else! (Laughs) So when I got a little older I wanted to do it for fun, and I thought I would help me in different ways. It has helped keep racing fun because I have two things to do. So that's how I started and it really just went on from there. I practice a lot, almost everyday since I've started. Now that the season has started I'll write songs and I'll have them in my head and when I have a chance to record I'll lay them down. That's what I just did when I went home for a week before Indianapolis: I went and recorded two songs.
How would you categorize your music?
I sometimes don't like to categorize it because I feel like it's like a riding style, you don't really get to pick your own. Like, someone will say, "He rides like so and so," or, "He's a smooth rider," or, "He's an aggressive rider." Pretty soon, you will begin to be known as that, and I feel like music is that same way, so it's hard for me to say that I'm this or that. I can definitely say that there is an alternative sound to it, I grew up listening to rock, so there's a rock bass and rock and roll in there, but there's some contemporary. I really can't say! But the Trail Boss song that Joey Cordova and I recorded is kind of like pop rap
So are you writing about riding dirt bikes or are you writing love songs and super deep political stuff?
I feel that my writing has gotten better here in the last few months, and I've started writing about more things and different subjects and different topics, but when you hear the demo I feel like you would be able to take two or three different styles of writing on those and I don't really write about racing in general but I will write about things that are very similar to racing and things that people can relate to that maybe don't know racing. The whole world doesn't know about motocross and Supercross unfortunately. If you say, "whoops," and people would wonder, "what's that?" so its not really something that the rest of the world really knows and understands. So, for now I'm just writing about this or about that, but I think eventually I'll just write about everything.
How can people hear your work?
That's the thing right now; I don't really want to sell the demo CD because it's a demo. I was hoping to stir some buzz and get some support to maybe get a CD recorded in the off-season and maybe get signed by a record company but that's all up in the air and I don't really have anything lined up but I'm hoping I can get some support from someone. Right now I'm trying to get a video out there and people have been asking on Twitter where to get the songs and that they like the music and I'm trying to get it out there as quick as I can but I don't want to release something if its not ready, but I want to give it to them before it gets cold.
Do you have your music on your Facebook?
I'll be explaining it on the Facebook and I'll have a vote for which song people would like to see have a video, etcetera. I'm going to start interacting with it now that I know that there is some interest in it.
So many racers are one dimensional, it's neat to see someone in our sport that has a whole other passion.
It's unfortunate that everyone is so one dimensional, but this is me and I so happen to do this and its something that I hope to get out there in time. Every time I get an opportunity to talk about it I try to, because it is something that I've done seriously for quite some time. I just don't think the world knows about it yet.
Switching channels, let's talk about this weekend. You had your first win of this season pretty much in the bag...
Yeah, I was there on the last lap and everything was fine, but I started getting into lappers and looking back now, I could say that I could have just cruised through the whoops. But there was this underlying thought in my head that said you need to hit whoops with momentum or else you'll crash. This lapper just took my line and it was no big deal, but carried my speed in the wrong way, in the wrong line and it carried me right off the track, and I was like, "What the heck?!" I look at it still and it's like, "Did that really just happen?" I mean, I have never crashed on the last lap before and maybe that's why it caught me so off guard because that's something that I'm not really used to doing. It looked so simple; I went in, the wheel got high, one thing lead to another and I tried to hold on and get my weight back but I didn't work and the next thing I know I'm on the side of the track thinking what the heck. (Laughs) For a split second while I was crashing I thought to myself, "Is this really happening?" That weekend was actually kind of rough because I crashed in practice and going into the heat and the main I was frustrated, but the heat was wild and people were running off the track and crashing, and the main was kind of just as wild but I was just in the carnage of the wildness! I'm not looking to repeat that again and I'm going to have to go out and win this weekend because nothing will ease that loss in Indy. I might as well go out to the desert and mourn for a few weeks and shred my shirt and pour ashes over my head. (Laughs)
Do you remember when Grant Langston was going win his first Supercross and he did a one-hander and crashed when he landed?
Yeah I've seen it and I'm thinking I've already won a Supercross before so it not as bad because it not like I would have been my first win and I can blame it on the fact that I just hit the whoops and got sideways, I wasn't doing a freestyle trick off the triple (laughs). If it would have happened on any other lap people would have been like, "Shoot, he wadded in the whoops," but because it happened on the last lap it's just embarrassing.
Looking forward, are you pumped for Nationals?
I'm looking forward to it! There are two new tracks and I've been to one of them. I'm in better shape, I'm stronger and faster, and I'm just trying to take the stuff that I'm learning now because you're going to come across hard times, but the ultimate goal is being there at the end of the series. I look forward to it and to see what it brings.
Last question. You elected to take number 13, so you're not superstitious, I take it.
The rules are that if you've made enough points to get a two-digit number they want you to ride a two-digit number. I don't have a career number so it was either 13 or 19 and I didn't really think that 19 is really relevant. I ran 13 as an amateur and I don't really believe in that superstition, so I thought of it as a good opportunity to run a lower number and I thought it was pretty cool. I've ran 21 before and people were like, "21 is a lucky number," but it never did anything for me. Some people might say my number 13 is why I crashed on the last lap, but I can honestly say that I haven't even thought about it.