Good Guys In Black - 'This is not a side gig to bike riding'

March 18, 2019

It's impossible to define Rick Thorne. Possibly because he doesn't want to be defined. A BMX rider, musician, fashion icon, TV and podcast host, and the all-around legend, Thorne always did things his way, not caring what others think. With nothing left to prove to anyone, he does what he loves and enjoys it. A few days ago, we caught up with Rick for the interview, a conversation that was just too massive for one article, so we decided to split it in two. In this part, we talked about his music, inspiration and his band Good Guys in Black. Part II will be out on Monday, March 25th, so stay tuned!

You and your band recently dropped new single 'Plastic Society,' along with a very memorable video. What inspired you to do that song and that video?
There's a lot of changes going on, and what inspired me on that particular song is that a lot of people now feel like they had to be cautious of what they say, you know? Obviously, you don't want to offend anybody for no reason, but at the same time, it's good to have your own opinion. And that particular song is basically based around neighborhoods. I moved into a new neighborhood for my kid's school, and I just, kind of felt like a lot of people seem real plastic. They were more concerned about, let's say their house or their car, and not so much about other issues, about the kids... Know what I mean? And I think that song just goes out to anybody that's acting one way, while in reality, they are different. Obviously, fake people suck.


So that was the song of me expressing myself. I'm a pretty opinionated person, I have critical thinking. You know, I'm not persuaded so much by my television. So, it's a song basically just saying to get your priorities straight about being a real person and not this facade you're trying to project. That's where that song came from. I'm from the world of riding bikes, right? So, when you're a bike rider, you can't fake anything. You do what you do, and that's it. You can't trick it, you can't fake it, there's no smoke and mirrors.


I've always been a punker, and I've always tried to be as true and real to myself and what I do, and it's just hard to have a conversation with this society of a fake people. So that's where the inspiration came from. If you're walking around and you're afraid to say something or do the right thing - you're not really doing anything, and that's incredibly wrong. Some people have gotten so about possessions and about how they look on the outside that they forgot the realness of who they really are on the inside. They're not being real, you know? I felt like that song, that topic was just something about moving to this neighborhood where I just didn't feel identified with a lot of the people around here.

And you're in Los Angeles now, right? So, LA has a bad reputation in the world as a city full of fake, people, plastic people, probably because of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, but still, it's one of the most creative cities in the world. From your perspective, how do you see LA?
LA got so many different styles. There's a lot of different people here, different races, different religions. I mean, people from all around the world come here. And you could say there are fake people anywhere, they're just not in LA. Right? And at the same time, you could say there's also a lot of really down to earth people here, too. You know, I'm originally from the Midwest, and people always say, that when you're from the Midwest, you're raised with different values and morals and et cetera. I would agree with that, and yeah, in LA there is a number of people that are trying to climb the ladder, but to be quite honest with you, I think it goes everywhere.


I like to put myself in places that help me live my dream. I want to live my dream and create opportunities for myself. LA does that for me. Not necessarily just LA, but you know, when you say LA, you generalize, okay? Orange County's not part of our LA, Ventura is not a part of LA, San Diego's not LA, but it's in the area. There are pockets everywhere. You got the guys who live in places like Riverside, Corona, Temecula, right? It's on the other side of the mountains. They may live and feel and think a different way than the people that live all the way in Huntington Beach. And then the people from Huntington Beach obviously live different than the people in Compton. And then, the people from Compton live differently than the people in Chino.  And so, you have these little cities and pockets everywhere. So, it's hard to generalize and say all these people, they're all this way, and all these people think this particular way.


People are always trying to climb the ladder for their career and fame or whatever it is that they're chasing. And for me, I'm not focused on trying to change people and say - "Oh well, you guys shouldn't be that way because I'm not." I'm clearly just saying it's something that I don't subscribe to. For me being a real person makes me feel grounded. You know, you can smell fake person a mile away, and then you decide if you want to hang out with that person or not. Creatively, LA has a lot of creativeness. But there are a lot of laws out here, and there are a lot more restrictions than a lot of other places that you would think. You go into the Midwest, and things are handled way differently.


For me, the number one reason why I even moved to LA was because of the weather. I wanted to be able to ride my bike all year round, and I didn't have to deal with the snow anymore. And creatively, it helps me dream, but also there's so much going on, and I'm going to put myself in the right place, the one that helps me and my career. And like I said, that was bike riding. That's was it. Um, but as far as being influenced and stuff, yeah, but that goes beyond LA. There's a big world out there. That's why I moved here and why I like it, because of the lifestyle of the weather.

You said you don't want to be the one to judge people, especially to judge them for not being like you. And that's one thing I always loved about you - be it riding, your music, anything you did, you were always original, always yourself, and did things the way you wanted. Do you think that's something that got you judged by others and faced you some restrictions, for you as a rider or for your band?
As far as judging people on what they do and what they don't do - I remember growing up riding bikes, and everyone said, "don't ride bikes." People from the school hated us. You know, we're talking early eighties. And I would be like - "Whatever dude, I'm not going to stop doing what I'm doing." Actually, that fueled our fire. We're going to keep doing what we love to do, and we're not gonna stop because you don't like it. And I've taken that into my life.


I mean, obviously, if you do something that's hurting people or you're a criminal, and you're doing the senseless crime, I won't be like - "Yo, that's whack!" But as far as what you want to do with your life and your dreams, and what you do that makes you feel good, who am I really to say what you should or shouldn't do? I'm just another human being, right? And I think back to what all those people that told me, how do you respond to that? "Screw you, I'm going to do it anyways!" As far as how you want to write music or ride your bike or dress or whatever, that's your deal. You're expressing yourself. If you're doing it because you truly feel that way and respect anyone who wants to express yourself, cool. If you're doing it because you want to impress people, that's still on you. That isn't on me.


And do you think that writing that way somehow narrowed the crowd for your music? Is it something you intentionally wanted to do?
When I write music, I'm not really like staying like - "Okay, I'm going to appeal to this crowd" or "Okay, what are kids listening to right now?" I'm just expressing myself and how I feel, without even thinking of who would listen to it or why they would listen to it. It's not calculated or catered to what people want. And don't take that the wrong way because I want people to listen to it. If you like the message, and fell the vibe, of course. You want to perform and send your message. But it's definitely not something that's written like - "I don't believe any of the stuff I'm writing about, but it's going to get me on the road and I'm going to tour and I'm going to make money and people are going to love me, so I'm going to write this song."


That's not me. I never did that with riding bikes. I don't really know how to do that. I don't know how to say "I feel this particular way, but people want to hear this, so screw how I really feel. Let me just write what people want." Some people do it, man, and that's cool if that's your deal. But for me, it's this deeper, music is almost like a therapy to me, to express myself. And I don't think I'm any better, at all. Be who you got to be, but just be a good person along the way, and try your best. I don't write music to please other people and what they want. Even though it's nice when someone likes your music.

It seems like your musical career has been pretty much on and off over the years, but you released a couple of singles in the last few months, and it seems like you're getting back on track. So what is next for Good Guys In Black?  do you have any album on the way? Or possibly a tour? Is there any chance we could see you in Europe?
It was really difficult starting a band being a pro athlete because nobody wants to give you a chance. I mean they do, but your industry is like - "Oh great, now he's starting a band, blah blah..." You know what I mean? It's difficult because people know you as one thing. They know you as a bike rider. And then you step out of those boundaries of a bike rider, and it's like, "ah, yeah, that's cool, but we know you as a bike rider." So, when I started playing music in the beginning, I think a lot of people were like, "oh dude, whatever." But this is something I've always wanted to do. Good Guys In Black, at the time I was getting a lot of jealousy from my industry based off of the exposure I was getting. And Good Guys In Black, what it means is that someone will look at you a particular way and think you're a certain way based off of how you look. But deep inside you're a good dude, and the outside doesn't matter. The inside matters more. That's what Good Guys In Black means. Period.


So, when I started playing music, I've done Warped Tour for so many years. Then, the bands that I knew thought this is cool, so then I ended up opening for Pennywise, did a little tour with Suicidal Tendencies, opening for The Addicts, Strung Out, Guttermouth, Pulley, Black Pacific and on and on. And that was in the beginning. But as time went on with music, it was harder for me to keep musicians because, I think that a lot of people were like, "Oh, this is the pro bike rider, Rick, we've made it." They wanted to play music, but they were coming at me more from a hired gun aspect. And I was so passionate about writing and playing music, just like I did about riding a bike. I was like, "Well, what the hell? Let's just do this, man. We're going to do is do it. We got this gig, aren't you guys stoked?" So, I did a Warped Tour, and then I created the skate park tour, and I was doing a lot of shows and stuff.


Then, at the time I went through divorce things just changed for me. I had to go through a divorce, the loss of my house, I had my kids most of the time, and my finances dropped. And I just felt like nobody was really wanting to play music with me as a band, but rather as a hired gun kind of thing. 'Cause you know, I do live in LA, right? I thought that was probably because I ride bikes and no one's taking me seriously, and I was stuck on that for a while. Even after doing a bunch of stuff, I was just like, "Fuck man, I just want to play! And nobody gets it except me." And I don't expect anybody to get it, but all I really wanted to do is just play. I love it. I love performing, right? So anyway, to answer this in a very long form, I went solo. I said: "All right, I'm just gonna call the band my name, Rick Thorne, and I'm going to hire people. If I can't have a band, like a band of people that are loyal, I'm just gonna hire 'em." And at that point, when I did that, I was still playing Good Guys In Black music.

And then, a lot of stuff had gone away. I wasn't doing shows, I wasn't playing. I was going through a divorce, I was depressed, I was going through a lot. My financial situation has dropped, I couldn’t even afford musicians. Even if I could, everybody just wants to be hired, so what's the point? And the more I said it, the worse it got. Then one day, I looked up, and I saw this painting of Good Guys In Black that I have, and I was like, "Dude, I'm just going to start a band. I'm just going to hire people for the band, and I'm going to find my sound." Because I had felt like I hadn't found my sound. And I reached that point now, I feel like we've got the tone and the sound and the vibe, that I wanted from the beginning. But it took me a very long time to figure that out because I wasn't born in the musical world. I spent a lot of my life riding bikes, I didn't understand the music industry. I just knew I could perform, and I wanted to play.


So, as that's changed and I'd been releasing these singles, that was the intent. Basically, I financially back everything in the band, I own Good Guys In Black, I've paid for the merch, and all the songs recording, and the music videos and everything. So, I would be like the label. And the guys that are in my band are my friends, really good friends of mine, but they're also in other bands. Because they have to pay bills, right? And I get it. So as, as they started to get better, once I got a plan for what I wanted to do - and I didn't have a plan before.  I just thought like "We're a band dude, we're gonna write these songs, we're gonna work together, we're gonna go out there and get it." And it wasn't that way. It just wasn't. And so, it wasn't until I had to go through all of that to say, "Okay, I'm going to take control over my vision, of what I want to do. I understand the situation that I'm in, I understand my age, I understand people look at me as a bike rider, but that's not gonna stop me. I'm going to fucking find a way to figure this out." And so, as things have gone on, I've been releasing these singles - and I actually have another one, it's called 'The American Dream.'


I just keep writing songs, I keep putting it out there. I keep letting people know I'm serious, that it's not a side gig or a hobby to my bike riding. And, as that happened, I started to play the Viper Room more, I played the Whiskey [A Go Go]... People are showing more interest, you hit me up for an interview, and it says to me that I finally got my sound. I'm super-confident with what we're putting out, and that's showing in more and more interests. So yes, to answer that, all of those questions. To play gigs, yeah man, that's what I live for. And to tour, and to come to Europe. I toured England. I did a tour there, but when I went there, I was solo, and the gigs weren't paying that much money.


So, imagine having a band, where people are in your band because you're a pro bike rider, but you can't pay their way over there 'cause you don't make any money. So you're like, "well, I'll just hire a band there." And that's what really woke me up to say "Wait a second, it's not a bad situation." Bands are put together however they're put together. You know, I was stuck in this life where you had to be like, dudes that grew up in a garage playing music, and then you made it, and you were the Ramones. Then I started looking at bands, and they've all been put together somehow. And it's, however, you got to put it together to make it work, you know? So yeah, man, I would love to tour more. I mean, that's really what I've been working towards with putting the songs out, putting the music videos out, letting it be known that this is who we are, this is our sound. And I'm really proud of the sound. When I play our music, I'm like, "Okay, I like this." Not that I didn't before, but this, I'm stoked. That really means a lot to me, 'cause that's really why I even play, to express myself.

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