History in Supercross: Interview with Jordan Burns of Moto XXX, Part 1

April 11, 2019 / by John Basher

Many moto fans may remember Team Moto XXX Racing. They came onto the scene with a punk rock background and approached the sport differently than anyone had before. We got the chance to sit down with Jordan Burns, one of the original owners of Moto XXX, to talk about his experience as a drummer/SX team owner, how the sport has evolved, and his 2002 CR125.

Enjoy this first half of our interview with Jordan Burns. Part 2 will be up soon!

Jordan drummed for the band 'Strung Out' for many years, but he was also one of the pioneers behind Moto XXX.
Photo: Pulp MX

Jordan Burns is many things to many people. To most, he’s been known as one of the premiere drummers in the punk rock music scene. Having played for the band ‘Strung Out’ for nearly a quarter of a century, Burns has traveled the world and influenced several generations of music lovers. While his accomplishments in punk music are vast, he has also made a truly indelible impact on the motocross scene.

While the sport in the early 1990s was highlighted by Champions who were criticized for being impersonable and robotic, motocross received a shot of adrenaline in the way of interesting personalities in the mid-‘90s. That was due, in part, to Jordan Burns. As one of three original owners of Moto XXX, Jordan and his team shook things up in what some would refer to as the “adolescent” times of motocross. Burns used his pull in the music industry to help kick-start a professional race team in 1997, fielding two-time 125 Supercross Champion Brian Swink and a relatively unknown kid from Nebraska named Brian Deegan. Little did anyone know that Moto XXX would help harbor the freestyle motocross movement and be a key piece in Deegan earning his one and only 125 Supercross victory.

We’ll let Jordan explain how that came to be, along with how the famed drummer turned his passion for motocross into reality. Not only that, Burns covers a myriad other interesting topics, including being given Travis Preston’s 2002 Honda CR125 two-stroke after playing a punk rock gig all of those years ago. Strap on your seat-belt, because you’re in for one wild ride!

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Where is home base for you and how did a punk rock drummer find a passion for motocross?

Burns: I was born and raised in West Hills, California, where I still currently reside. I started playing drums at the age of 15 and immediately joined my first punk band called Society’s Prisoners. I would go on to play in many different punk bands as time went on. However, I always had a love for motorcycles...actually before I ever started playing drums. I always dreamed of racing motocross, but I never got to take that route professionally. In fact, I never got my first motorcycle until later in life, when I could afford my first dirt bike on my own. I went above my parents and said, “You know what? I’m buying myself a motorcycle [laughter].” It was a Honda XL350 that a co-worker at my last job long ago co-signed for so I could get the loan, as my parents were against it. I still have that bike in my garage and it's still super clean! 

Jordan has had a passion for motorcycles even before he started playing drums, which was at 15 years old.

Do you still ride?

Burns: Absolutely. I love riding, it’s such a gnarly work out! My main go-to track is Los Angeles Country Raceway (LACR). I really love the track there. I have a lot of history with the Barbacovi family, who own the place. I started riding and racing out there in the late 80s and became really good friends with Jeff Barbacovi. He ended up passing away in a freak accident on his bike. If you look at the Moto XXX 1 movie, we have a dedication to Jeff at the end of the film. I still of course remember him to this day. He was a white rapper, and that was before white rappers were a big thing. It was funny, because he was called ‘Emcee Plain White.’ He was on to something. He would announce all of the races at LACR back when they were doing Friday night races. He would be on the mic, fully rapping while announcing. Jeff was a lot of fun. LACR is a great track to go riding at, and it’s also the closest one to where I live, just a 50-minute drive. 

Burns still thoroughly enjoys swinging a leg over the bike to get a good workout in, hang out with friends--including Colin "Scummy" Morrison pictured here--and just have an awesome time.

Los Angeles County Raceway closed for a while, but re-opened with a whole new layout and dirt mixture. What do you think of it now?

Burns: The new layout is awesome. Anthony and his crew bust ass out there. If you went to the old-school tracks that were up above at LACR, they had some great layouts there too. I remember the over-and-under tunnel. There were a lot of good times. It’s good to see that a lot of people are still supporting the track.

Word on the street is that you’re still riding a 2002 Honda CR125 two-stroke and not one of the new four stroke bikes?

Burns: Word on the street is true! Long ago, my old band played this after party show in Las Vegas for the SX final round. It was for the Doc Marten’s team, which I got lined up with the help of Travis Preston who was riding for the team at that time. Part of our pay was two Honda CR125 two-strokes. We got two bikes and some cash. Three of the guys took the cash. I took a bike, and the guitar player took the other bike. That’s where my bike came from [laughter]. It was one of Travis Preston’s bikes. The CR125 still has the #29 on the number plates, as well as TP29 on the wheel hubs.

Burns received one of Travis Preston's CR125s for playing a SX after-party in Vegas one year. Here he is riding with Pro Skater Steve Caballero. Pretty cool pay structure if you ask us!

I’ve been riding a bunch lately. I’m not great or anything, but I’m still having a lot of fun out there. I have nothing to prove so I don’t typically go for any big doubles or jumps that I’m hesitant on. But yeah, I really enjoy riding, and I’ve done quite a bit. I raced a bunch back in the day on a very amateur level. The highest class I made it to was mid-Novice, at best. I like riding the Honda CR125. Four-strokes are way more expensive to ride and maintain which is bad for an unemployed punk rock drummer [laughter]. Plus, I like being on the 125, because it sounds like I’m going faster. I have a lot of free time on my hands right now, so yeah, I've been riding more often than usual.

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What are you doing to your Honda CR125? Anything special? 

Burns: Nothing too out of the ordinary. I just got a new top end put in thanks to the guys at ProX and my mechanic Jim Stonehouse.  ProX was a long-time sponsor of our team, so I got in touch again to spark our relationship up and see if they'd be down to help me out with a top end kit. I was greeted with open arms so, I’m stoked that I reached out and touched base. That led me to doing this interview as well so, it’s cool how things work out sometimes, right? I still have the 2002 Moto XXX graphic kit on my bike which included ProX on the fork guards, so, still representing and happy to have ProX's support along with everyone else that continues to help me out! 

Click here to find ProX parts for your bike.

ProX Racing Parts was a long time sponsor of the Moto XXX team. This Kyle Lewis bike was out at Vegas SX this year, still sporting the original Moto XXX graphics.
Photo: ProX Racing Parts

In talking about free time, you were in the band ‘Strung Out’ for nearly 25 years, but were recently terminated from the group. What happened?

Burns: Well, being in a band can be gnarly. At least 50% of being in a band is getting along. Well, there was "one" that I just never got along with and I guess things came to a head. I could go on and on, honestly could write book, but that's the short answer and I’ll leave it at that. I've really done my best to take the high road and not publicly air dirty laundry. It’s bittersweet for a lot of reasons. But yeah, when it comes to moto, the band itself never really supported the motocross industry. They basically would sh** talk me the whole time. It was never a supportive deal. Everything we made, fan-wise, out of the motocross industry was from me. I pumped the heck out of our band within the moto industry.

Jordan was the bridge between Strung Out and all the moto fans he was around at the races, despite the push back from his bandmates.
Photo: Pulp MX

It was at a time (1994/95) when punk rock was not fully exposed to the whole moto scene yet. Through all the videos and things we did, we ended up making a ton of fans through the motocross scene. I would get pissed off because I would be met with comments like, “Dude, we want to be a moto band. We don’t want a bunch of sideways-hat, 909 [SoCal] bro-brahs at all of our shows.” It was painful for me to hear stuff like that. When you are a brand (and a band is a brand/business) you’re open to everybody. I don’t care if you play volleyball, figure skate, or paint your toenails pink. If you are a fan of the band, then it doesn’t matter who you are. Who cares? You’re a brand, and you want to appeal to everyone. It was so close-minded. The moto thing was 100% me and I appreciated the f*** out of all the moto fans we made. 

In thinking about Moto XXX bursting onto the scene, one cannot look much further than Brian Deegan winning the L.A. Supercross in 1997 and ghost-riding his Suzuki RM125 over the finish line jump in celebration.

Brian Deegan winning the L.A. Supercross for Moto XXX in 1997 will always be an iconic moment in SX history, especially because he crossed the finish line in true punk rock style by ghost riding his bike off the jump.
Photo: Pulp MX

Burns: Obviously, everyone was in awe. Truth be told, I wasn’t able to be at that race. I was in Europe at the time for a show. That was around the beginning of the Internet happening. I was in Germany, and I remember looking up to see what the results were. I saw that Deegan won. I was literally tripping out. My eyes started tearing up! I was in shock, and literally blown away at how our little punk rock team had just won a Supercross event. Think about how many riders and teams are out there that have never won a Supercross race. When Deegan did that ghost ride, it was the best thing ever. He’s one of the only one-time winning Supercross racers that is still presently remembered. Everyone knows the ghost ride, and I still own that bike! You have a lot of other people that have won races, but they’re all forgotten about. Deegan is still remembered. I am still very proud of that moment and thankful for Deegan riding for us. I’m pretty sure he is thankful for Moto XXX too as we certainly provided a gateway to his success. We turned him on to punk rock and he took the reins and ran with it! Punk rock wasn’t part of his life until we came along. We don’t like to pat ourselves on the back too hard, but you know what? Moto XXX first-handedly exposed a lot of people to punk rock.

Moto XXX was one of the very first freestyle motocross videos, released shortly after Crusty. You have to be proud of that.

Burns: I always hear people saying, "Crusty did this, and they did that" Well there is no denying they made a huge mark starting with their 1st movie but you know what? Moto XXX came out at the same time, and our movie did really well, too. We give them absolute due credit and respect, but people tend to forget all of the stuff that we did. It's like we were the underdogs. As the video market began to grow and get flooded, we did something completely different. We took all our profits and started a race team "Team Moto XXX Racing." We made good money from the videos, but to fund the team and do it ourselves cost a sh** load. It was a big learning lesson on how the industry worked, and we got strung along a lot by sponsors promising to pay up, and pretty much dumped everything we made from our movies and other products into supporting the team. It was crazy with how much money things cost. We quickly realized it was difficult to run and support a SX/MX team. 

Moto XXX set themselves apart from the Crusty Demons movie crew by putting their profits back into their race team efforts.
Photo: Pulp MX

Talk about the team dynamic back in those days, which was comprised of Erik Sandin [drummer for punk band NOFX], Kurt Haller [photographer/videographer], and yourself.

Burns: Erik and I were busy with our bands. I was always the loud-mouth pot-stirrer. I liked to fire things up at the races and get stuff going in the pits. I threw out CDs and other free things that would get the crowds all stirred up into a frenzy. I mean, come on, at the time there was never a team in the pits that was sponsored by record labels (Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph, Nitro). No one else threw out free music. Obviously, Kenny Watson played a big part in getting things together and running the team. He tends to discredit me on everything so we still butt heads like brothers. The fact of the matter is, what made Moto XXX awesome at that time was the complete package and what we all brought to the table. Here were two punk rock drummers and a snowboard film maker making waves in a scene none of us directly came from, except KW. We were doing something completely different. Who knows if it would have turned out like that if we didn’t have all those different elements? But yeah, we pulled it off for a very long time while so many other teams came and went. We were noted by Racer X to be the most successful, true to the name, privateer team ever! 

Jordan Burns, Erik Sandin, and Kurt Haller, the original owners of Moto XXX, entered the SX scene from a completely different angle, and made a lasting impression on the sport.
Photo: Pulp MX

How do you think a video like Moto XXX 1 would be received these days, given the push to social media and content sharing?

Burns: Well, I’m biased, of course, but I think it would be welcomed! The internet these days is full of all sorts of free riding content, so for me, some of it gets played out a bit. Most of the videos I see these days are kind of boring to me. It’s a different world out there. People are spending $100,000 or more on making these current motocross videos. The top-notch films right now are [Travis] Pastrana’s Action Figures 2 movie, which has the most ridiculous stunts in it. Travis and his crew of guys are incredible. I mean, sh**'s not going to get much gnarlier than what you'll see in that movie. But, I think people are also yearning for the 1990s, although I don’t know if that can ever be repeated.

Brian Deegan and his Moto XXX gold-sparkle bike are a great example of the stand-out things you might have seen in the pits in the 90s. A team showing up to SX with bikes like this now is much less likely, but there's a good chance it would draw a lot of attention.
Photo: Pulp MX

That’s especially true in the Supercross pits these days. The racing levels are incredible, but the pits and how everything is so controlled and corporate is stale. It’s all about greed in my opinion, and that’s a bummer. I always looked at motocross like a bad boy sport. They always talk about how they want to make it like NASCAR. I’m no rocket scientist, but it will never be NASCAR. It’s their fantasy dream. It will never be that big, because it’s a different market, though, motocross should be that popular, because the athletes are phenomenal. I just don’t think it will get to that level. I really believe those days of releasing videos, and the freestyle motocross video market, is what drove a lot of people to the races.

CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this Moto XXX interview!

Photos by Defy Focus Photography, unless otherwise noted.

Photos credited to Pulp MX were sourced with permission from: http://pulpmx.com/2014/07/24/moto-xxx-the-complete-oral-history/

Topics: FEATURES, featured, Powersports

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Written by John Basher

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