Gunfighter, animator, filmmaker…I love the labels off-roaders accumulate. Everyone comes with a myriad of talents. Krawlzone.tv creator, Nathan Riddle, has been bringing us off-road content for more than ten years; it’s an awesome history. Listen in to Episode 140, and if you need to catch up – you can find all episodes on your favorite podcast apps, YouTube or www.bigrichklein.com
4:29 – “Hey, I’ve got an idea”
8:00 – A theme that we’ve kept all the way through, the passion and connectedness of the community
18:57 – the cool thing about Sand Hollow is actually blazing new trails
23:36 – I was a little jealous that I didn’t get to participate in Little Hollywood with John Wayne walking the streets
29:55 – I was a Jeff Foxworthy kid, “if you live in a house that’s mobile surrounded by a dozen cars that aren’t…”
36:57 – I moved over to Spacestation Animation, and the whole ecosystem is well over 150 people
44:56 – having more of an authentic come along, come hang out with us
50:36 – oh, hey, we’re out here on the trail with “Nobody”
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle not just to job. I talked to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call off road.
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[00:01:48.140] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of conversations with Big Rich, we have Nathan Riddle. Nathan is Krawlzone TV host and creator. He's also done some acting and an animator, and we are going to get into his life. Nathan, thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your life with us.
[00:02:12.110] - Nathan Riddle
Oh, absolutely. I'm so excited to be here.
[00:02:14.610] - Big Rich Klein
So let's get the first question out of the way. Where were you born and raised?
[00:02:20.540] - Nathan Riddle
Well, I was born and raised in Kanab, Utah, not too far from St. George, and it's got the same beautiful red rocks as Moab and St. George and all the areas that we left to go wheeling. And that's where I grew up. And in the time it was called Little Hollywood, all the old westerns were filmed around that area. And so it's kind of a really fun place, eclectic place to grow up.
[00:02:44.910] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. And that makes sense now, knowing that, well, we'll just jump to Krawlzone because that's where I know you from. And then we'll get back into the history. One of the guys that you work with on that is John Jacobs. And I knew that he was from well, he lives in Kanab now, and I would imagine that's where he's from as well.
[00:03:08.410] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, absolutely. We grew up as buddies together. We've been friends since the fifth grade. That really, I guess, is the initial catalyst, you know, being buddies and then all of a sudden seeing an opportunity to do something fun. That's kind of how things got started.
[00:03:23.420] - Big Rich Klein
Well, cool. So let's talk a little bit about KrawlZone first, and then, like I said, then we'll get into your life and how you got to KrawlZone. KrawlZone is an internet based TV show, is that correct?
[00:03:38.910] - Nathan Riddle
That is right, yeah. KrawlZone is an off road adventure show. Just as YouTube was starting at the time, there were no such thing as big creators yet. And so my goal was to create a television show on the Internet, not necessarily like a YouTube channel, which I would do things a lot differently today the way YouTube goes.
[00:04:07.260] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that makes sense. Some of the stuff and the people that have so many followers in Off Road from YouTube are not necessarily creating, but just showing what other people have put up. Right, but you guys created the show, and what was the original concept behind it?
[00:04:29.020] - Nathan Riddle
Well, the original concept was we wanted to do a kind of a news magazine style show like you might see on TV. And one day John Jacobs, he called me, he knew I was doing some film stuff, and he's like, hey, I've got an idea. And I'm like, well, everybody got an idea. And we giggled for a minute, but he's like, no, hear me out. And he and Vic Buness had just started rock crawling. And I believe they had just started doing some WE Rock. And he's like, dude, this is awesome. We got to do a show. And I'm like, okay. And we looked into it and I'm like, yeah, this is awesome. And so we jumped in and started filming and took off from there.
[00:05:10.690] - Big Rich Klein
Do you remember what your first show was? It at one of the events.
[00:05:16.940] - Nathan Riddle
No, our very first episode was, let's see, what was it back then at Crawl Fest that has evolved into the Winter 4x4 Jamboree over the years now. But we went to that one, and that's where we met some of our first company partners. We had Rebel Off Road, we had Larry McCrae, at Poison Spyder, and those guys that saw us running around with cameras. And we met up with them. But that was our first event that we filmed. But interesting enough, almost all the footage from that actually got lost. We filmed and then got home and didn't have backups or something, and boom, it was gone. But then the next one after that was 2011. King of the Hammers was kind of the first big video that we were able to put out.
[00:06:06.370] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and that makes sense because what is Winterfest now or whatever it is there in St. George Hurricane or Sand Hollow, I should say, it actually has a name now, that's January event. And then Koh is of course, February event and then We Rock doesn't get started until March.
[00:06:32.330] - Nathan Riddle
[00:06:32.770] - Big Rich Klein
So that absolutely makes sense. And what was that like going down to that Koh? That was 2011, correct?
[00:06:40.340] - Nathan Riddle
Yes. And so we've grown up bombing around the hills and doing a little off roading, but the idea of extreme off road was still very new to me. And so I was talking with John Jacobs, like, where should we go? And he's like, dude, we should go down to king of hammers. And I'm like, king of the who? What? Okay. And so we jumped in this worn out old RV that John had picked up for $1,000, and we piled our gear in there, and we drove out into the desert, and I couldn't believe hammer town. It's grown a lot since then. Back then, it was like there's just this mass of offroad buggies and tents and campers, and it was just mind blowing to be able to see that kind of energy and that kind of horsepower all around you all the time. We talk about adrenaline. It really got me pumping.
[00:07:35.350] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. And what were some of the storylines that you picked up from there?
[00:07:43.410] - Nathan Riddle
Some of the big things that really jumped out to me were how much people were just so passionate about Offroad that there was one guy we interviewed. He's like, I just mortgage my house to build this thing so I could be out here.
[00:07:57.140] - Big Rich Klein
There's a lot of guys who did that.
[00:08:00.740] - Nathan Riddle
And I was like, whoa, that's mindblowing. And then to see the level of fabrication that these guys were into, that they're building their own cars that were capable of that kind of performance and could take that kind of a beating, that was really exciting to see because that's something you would see in a magazine or you would see on a show or something far away. And it felt so removed and all of a sudden to be there and to see it and touch it and feel it, that tangible was really insane for me. And that was some of the stuff that I brought away. And then two. The other thing was the community of Offroad, that these were just people who were close to each other and connected to each other and cared for each other. And that's a theme that we kept all the way through. Crawl zone is just the community was so awesome and so personable, and so everybody took care of everybody. And that made a big impression on me on that first event.
[00:09:00.060] - Big Rich Klein
And who were some of the people that you featured in that first koh?
[00:09:08.690] - Nathan Riddle
Well, probably being new, most of the people I didn't know. But Shannon Campbell was king that year. I believe he won, and so we got to interview him. We hung out with Charlene Bauer quite a bit and talked to her, and then otherwise, it was just a whole bunch of people. I'm like, I don't even know who these people are, but I just got to talk to him. We just went down the line and talked to a budget, paid racers.
[00:09:31.310] - Big Rich Klein
And how many kohs did you guys film or do shows about oh, gosh.
[00:09:39.290] - Nathan Riddle
We did the first I've kind of lost track the first three or four, for sure. And then I think we skipped one and then came back. Part of that crawl zone. It was there. And then we ran out of money, and so we took a year off, and then we came back. And even in those times, there was a few that we hit every year because crawls only was something we were trying to get off the ground, but at the same time, it was a side gig. So sometimes we had to take a break.
[00:10:08.420] - Big Rich Klein
[00:10:09.510] - Nathan Riddle
But I think we're out there three or four years. But when we were out there for that first one, the interesting thing was that it wasn't the media spectacle that it became or that it is today. Right, right. There were a handful of photographers all over and then a couple of video guys. We were the biggest deal. And we hadn't even started. We're just starting. Right. And so we had the biggest cameras running around. And so the last king of the Hammers we went to, we walked up and we were like, oh, we need to get our media credentials. We forgot to put our request in early. And they're like, oh, we know you guys. You've been here from the beginning. Come on. And so it was really kind of cool to know that we were kind of helping build the industry, even for those early days.
[00:10:51.920] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's awesome. The media now down there is absolutely insane. Yeah, because that's how we go there now, is to represent the magazine for low. But in fact, the last couple of years, I've sent photographers and writers instead of going to myself, because for me, it's become too much as a zoo. I don't even like mid sized towns or anything over 15,000, and I'm feeling cramped. And obviously there's more than that there at Hammer Town, so it becomes the Wild West out there. But they've done a really good job of blowing that up, media wise. Internationally, too.
[00:11:40.300] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, for sure.
[00:11:43.260] - Big Rich Klein
So then with crawls on, I know you said you ran out of money and then have to take some time off and get back to it because your real gigs are what ultimately pay the price to play and to do the things that you want to do. Give me an idea of what kind of costs were involved, say, per episode.
[00:12:09.960] - Nathan Riddle
Well, early on, when we were just running shoestring, when we just calculated, here's the gas to get there and the room to stay there and some food to eat and not to make any money off of just to get there, we're probably looking around $2,000 of hard cost. And then the rest of it was whatever my time was worth to edit the videos or do the graphics or do the social media stuff that I didn't get paid for because I was just doing it for fun, but that was kind of the minimum cost of not making any money. Just, here's what it cost to hop in. And that was just me hopping in like a little sedan. I wasn't even showing up in a jeep or anything. I was just showing up in something that cheap. Right? We kept it cheap.
[00:12:55.070] - Big Rich Klein
And so who were some of your marketing partners with crawls on early on.
[00:13:01.280] - Nathan Riddle
Like I mentioned earlier, we had Poison Spider, we had Bond at Rebel Off Road Gosh. Later on. We had BFGoodrich, we had Nitrogen axel. We had Christine over at Liftoff Road. Let's see, adams Drive Shaft was a good partner with us and quite a few OTMC customs. Another big one that was a big supporter of us, and a lot of companies that were just good would always give us a good shout out and whatnot. We really always appreciated that, but those are the ones that make sure that we could get on the trail and paid for our meals and paid for us to show up.
[00:13:45.730] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I remember when the first event you came to for us, we did an interview together, and I don't remember if John was running the camera or somebody else was, and you were doing the interviews, but you made it really easy.
[00:14:07.940] - Nathan Riddle
Well, thank you. Yeah, we tried to definitely do it easy. When we first started, my younger brother helped out a lot, and I think it was John that actually did the interview with you. He'd have done that. But then later on, it just became mostly me and John running around, and I tried to be behind the camera and film him and put myself in front of the camera whenever I could try to make a show out of it.
[00:14:31.990] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. And what was the length of show that you shot for each time? Did you have like, a set that you want 28 minutes or whatever?
[00:14:43.640] - Nathan Riddle
Well, our early videos, the goal was to try to shoot for a 30 minutes, like a 22 minutes episode, like you'd see on a regular TV show. But sometimes we're like trying to figure out how to make that work and whatnot. The early ones are probably closer to 15 minutes, but then by the time I was done, they were probably the later ones were probably 30 to 40 minutes long.
[00:15:08.020] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and what were some of the events that you did besides we Rock and Koh?
[00:15:18.660] - Nathan Riddle
The cool thing about offroad events is they happen all over the country. So we were able to go from the Big Bear Forest Fest in California all the way to Jeep Beach in Florida. We hit the rocktober fest with TNT, Customs and the Dakotas. But for the most part, we stayed close to the west again because of cost and whatnot. And so we stuck around trail hero. We stuck around with the Water four x four jamboree, and I think those are kind of the big ones.
[00:15:50.840] - Big Rich Klein
Are you still producing any shows?
[00:15:55.340] - Nathan Riddle
Well, you know, that's a really good question. Since COLVID hit, no, we really didn't get out too much and that was about the same time my Jeep broke and so it really didn't make a lot of sense to go out. And then during that time I picked up a new gig where I'm the studio director for a new animation studio and that's taken a lot of time over the last year and a half, but my Jeep is just about on the road and we've been talking to some people about getting back out cool. And starting to do some more videos. So, yeah, it's going to potentially be picking up here pretty soon.
[00:16:29.840] - Big Rich Klein
And where do you reside at now?
[00:16:33.660] - Nathan Riddle
I'm in northern Utah, just north of Salt Lake in a town called Layton.
[00:16:36.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:16:37.190] - Nathan Riddle
And that's where we are home based out of now and then John, he's still down in Kanab.
[00:16:42.730] - Big Rich Klein
Right. There's so much wheeling going on down in San Hollow that if you get back into it, going out there and getting those really hardcore guys, a lot of them are competitors, but there's a lot of rock crawling competitors that we rock.
[00:17:01.030] - Nathan Riddle
[00:17:02.240] - Big Rich Klein
There's so many people down there that are just coming in from all over the United States to wheel there now. It's kind of like what Moab used to be, but it's like endless down there.
[00:17:17.540] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, it's crazy. I love that area down there, but it is changed. We first started filming being close to home down there. That was one of our favorite places to go film and a lot of the trails we did the videos on. And so every time we go to an event, we take on three or four different trails and do a video about it. And so a lot of people that go to Wheel down there kind of knows early on from our videos it's changed a lot to where it's almost too busy for me most of the time. And so I try to find one. There's not a whole lot going on down there to go wheeling because it's really a lot of buggies out there.
[00:17:58.030] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I can remember my first time down there. It wasn't even called sand hall. It was just the hurricane dunes. And that was back in the late ninety s, ninety S, ninety six to ninety nine, or somewhere around there, 97 to 2000. And then I moved out of Cedar, but we used to go down there with the clubs, rebel Four Wheel Drive Club out of St. George and then the Color Country Four Wheelers, which was the club that I was involved with heavily in Cedar City. And it was all about the sand. We had the rocks of Cedar City that everybody went to play on. We didn't even I don't remember looking at the rocks down there going, oh, I got to drive all this stuff. When we went down there was all about sand because there was no sand like that up in Cedar.
[00:18:57.360] - Nathan Riddle
That's interesting. That's really interesting because things have definitely changed. I remember hearing the stories of the sand buggies and whatnot running out there, but yeah, by the time we came on, it was all about the rocks. But even then it was a handful of good trails, but they were newer trails. They've just been blazed. And that's the cool thing about San Halo is that we've been able to go in different groups and actually blaze cool trails. But the number of trails that are down there, there's a lot more since we started. And so that's cool that there are more places to go. But again, it's drawn a lot of attention.
[00:19:32.540] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:33.170] - Nathan Riddle
And it's become the new Mecca.
[00:19:35.000] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it has. And being that you can drive anywhere, it's not like you're stuck in a ten foot wide or 20 foot wide trail. They still want people to carry the treadlightly mantra with you, but there's not like specific areas you can't go into. I mean, it's just I don't know how many acres are 80,000 or something like that.
[00:20:08.060] - Nathan Riddle
[00:20:08.330] - Big Rich Klein
What it is, it's just crazy.
[00:20:10.570] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, it really is. And that is the cool thing. Obviously we want to take care of our trails in our land and whatnot, but yet to not be scared that if you get off the trail, Tube 2ft that somebody's going to come and taddle on you is really nice to know that you just go out there will and have a good time.
[00:20:27.470] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And then the community there hurricane has really backed all of that happening with Moab. Now the political climate there is, you know, turning almost anti motorized recreation, which is a shame because it is an iconic place as well.
[00:20:49.730] - Nathan Riddle
Absolutely. Well, that off road made Moab all those trails that everybody likes to go and the fact that anybody even knows to go out there to ride a bike or to go hike or any of that is because of off roaders. You know, guys that went out there and blazed those original trails allowed us to be able to go and actually see what a beautiful place it was. And so it is a shame that it's being locked up. And the thing that made it amazing is being locked out.
[00:21:15.280] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And they're just trying to close everything down now. It's a shame. It really is. I hate to see losing any opportunity to recreate in any way. And it really drives me nuts when people use the outdoors to recreate, trying to keep it to themselves and lock others out. It's insane.
[00:21:38.910] - Nathan Riddle
Yes. And I wouldn't want off riders to do the same to hikers or reCYCLISTS either. I think that we have the opportunity to truly share that and to build our community together.
[00:21:51.510] - Big Rich Klein
I agree. So besides, just like the crawling and going to that koh and stuff, did you guys do any other type of shows besides the extreme offroad side of.
[00:22:12.110] - Nathan Riddle
It as far as crawl Zone, you mean? Yeah, we made sure that we were getting a balanced look at things. Obviously, the hardcore buggy market, particularly at that time, was a fairly niche market. And so in order to reach a bigger market, we did kind of focus on kind of the jeeps and going to places like Jeep Beach where there's no crawling at all. There's not even rocks out there. They had to make a man made course in the middle of the Daytona Speedway and then just drive along the beach and do some lighter things like that. And then we actually did a lot of a lot of stuff for a lot of the brands that we worked with. We did a lot of behind the scenes commercials or stuff for them and produced a lot of content for those guys. So, yeah, we tried to do a little bit from mild to wild, as they say.
[00:23:05.990] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so now let's jump back in and figure out how you got to that point and to the filming and all that kind of stuff. And you'd mentioned that the job you're doing now. So when you're living down in cannabis and it was a place where a lot of movies were filmed, or at least nearby there were filmed that big red rock area and everything, what drove you into that kind of media?
[00:23:36.290] - Nathan Riddle
Well, having grown up in southern, let me back up a little bit there. Having grown up in Kannab, obviously we're all into outdoors and adventure, right? It's the great hiking. Every day after school, I go hike a little bit and come home all summer long. I was always up hiking. When I got old enough to drive, we would take the old truck and go bombing around the dirt roads and whatnot. I got my fair share of being stuck and having somebody come pull me out because I went someplace I shouldn't have. And so just grew up just kind of with that kind of adventure desire to get out there with just a gorgeous world that we have out there. And then on top of that, the ideas of missing out on little Hollywood that my mom and my dad would talk about. Oh, yeah, we used to see John Wayne, or we'd see the Rat Back, or we'd see all these different stars that would be in town while they were filming. I don't know if I begrudged, but I was a little jealous that I didn't get to participate in that. And in high school, I got into theater and acting and performing and used to do Summer Stocks theater.
[00:24:49.210] - Nathan Riddle
We used to do the melodramas at the old barn playhouse. And so I grew up with a flair for adventure, but also a taste to be an entertainer and always wanted to be being other characters or pretending I was somebody else. And then as I got older, went to college, that's when I got into animation and kind of took me for a little bit completely away from everything that I thought I was into. And then while I was studying that, I was also studying independent film and was trying to be a filmmaker as well. And so I collected some cameras and started going around making things. And one of the things that when John called me up, I was actually working on a Western. I was like, I'm going to do this Western series, because growing up with the old Westerns, right? And that's when John called me up and he's like, hey, I know you got this equipment. Let's do something. And my initial thought was, this sounds really cool. I could go in and I could fail at Crawl Zone. That would teach me how to make films, right? And so I looked at Crawl Zone as an opportunity to experiment and to learn, as an educational opportunity for myself at the onset.
[00:26:13.810] - Nathan Riddle
And then when I got in there, I started meeting the people and I started getting that adrenaline rush of being around all those epic machines. Then things changed and turned into a ten year run.
[00:26:28.260] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. Get bit by that bug. You had the taste outdoors living there. I can't imagine. You know, I grew up in a city just on the peninsula just south of San Francisco. We had San Francisco International there, and we had some wilder areas, the county parks and the redwoods, the coastal redwoods there and everything. I did the Boy Scout thing and became an Eagle Scout out and did a lot of backpacking in the Sierras and that kind of stuff, but not to where you would walk out to the edge of your town and you'd be what I would consider almost wilderness. That must have been awesome.
[00:27:19.710] - Nathan Riddle
Oh, it was, yeah, because at the time I think the population was maybe $3,000, and so it was just tiny and it would blow up in the summer because it was in the middle of Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon and all the parks. There were a lot of tourists that would come. And so I had a very eclectic youth because I bumped into people from all around the world. But then, like you say, at the same time, I can walk five minutes and be up a red cliff somewhere. And so it really was a magical time to be a kid.
[00:27:53.840] - Big Rich Klein
And what was school like? I would imagine if there's only 3000 or so people in town, the school was fairly small, although it is utah families are a little bit bigger. So what was that like?
[00:28:11.090] - Nathan Riddle
Well, we were the largest graduating class and we had, I think, 85 kids in our total graduating class. And so the whole high school, a couple of hundred kids, and everybody knew everybody. Everybody was a neighbor of a neighbor, and you got to know everybody, which had its pros and cons, because you couldn't hide. If you were out being a little bit of a hoodlum or something, somebody would know who you were and they would get back to your bond, but I guess kept us good.
[00:28:44.840] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I lived in a town of 50,000. I don't think I could do anything in that town without my parents finding out. I get it. I can't imagine I'd have been in so much trouble if I'd been in a smaller town.
[00:29:00.960] - Nathan Riddle
[00:29:02.910] - Big Rich Klein
Because at least there, once we got over the border of our town and into the other cities, we were kind of anonymous at that point where you guys get fidonia. But then the next closest thing is what, page or Colorado City?
[00:29:21.290] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, probably Colorado City, but you never stopped in Colorado City because they were kind of a recluse little town. So it was Saint Georgia page to get out of there. There's a couple of smaller towns up north of us, glendale and Orderville.
[00:29:34.150] - Big Rich Klein
Very small. Yes.
[00:29:35.800] - Nathan Riddle
Tinier than us. Yeah.
[00:29:37.790] - Big Rich Klein
So once you get out of high school well, in high school, what kind of things besides the community theater and probably high school theater, that kind of stuff, was there anything else that you were into?
[00:29:55.340] - Nathan Riddle
Well, yes, if you could be on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town like that, that was me. I lived in this I grew up in this tiny little rundown trailer court, and our mobile home, the roof was collapsing in it was a Jeff Foxworthy kid. If you live in a house that's mobile surrounded by a dozen cars that aren't, that was me growing up. I was always tinkering on old cars, and so that's one thing that I've always loved is just tinkering on old cars and whatnot. And I've passed that on to my son now as we're out working on the YJ, and he's got him a little old fiero and a few things that he's torn apart. Old cars and just tinkering around on stuff has always been something that we were really into. And then through the theater and kind of where we lived and whatnot one of the things there were some gunfighter troops, the old cowboy quick draw. And so I was part of that as well. Both John and I both did that where we would go around and put on shoot them up shows for the tourists and whatnot.
[00:30:58.190] - Big Rich Klein
I actually did the same thing here in placesville, eldorado county, which is between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, I called it an outdoor theatrical group. And we did county fairs and city days, and we did the Portola railroad days, things like that. And we would do skits. We had a gallows and a harness, and we do all this practicing and everything. And yeah, I was fast raw. I did gun fights in the street. It was a fun time.
[00:31:42.050] - Nathan Riddle
[00:31:42.250] - Big Rich Klein
[00:31:43.280] - Nathan Riddle
Well, shoot, we're going to have to go strap on our six shooters and go out and put off shoulder.
[00:31:47.540] - Big Rich Klein
I don't have mine anymore. My Colt Peacemaker. I don't have it. I wish I did.
[00:31:52.720] - Nathan Riddle
Well, we can fix that.
[00:31:57.590] - Big Rich Klein
So yeah, we did. In fact, one time we were down in the Valley, Sacramento Valley area in actually Jackson, California, and we were doing the Mountain Man Days or something like that. And they had asked us to come in and we were putting on shows. And it was really hot. It was summertime and I think I actually got heat exhaustion that day to the point where I don't remember the last 3 hours that we were doing things. I just had to sit them out. But wearing all the clothing and the duster jacket and hat and everything and just it got to be overheated. Didn't get enough water and too much time standing on the hot pavement in the middle of the streets.
[00:32:50.710] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, I've been there and done that. I've worn myself out a few times, but I was still quite young. I was just right out of high school for a few years there. And being the young buck, they always made me the guy who started the problem and got shot first.
[00:33:03.280] - Big Rich Klein
[00:33:04.150] - Nathan Riddle
And so then I would have to lay in the street for the rest of the show.
[00:33:10.260] - Big Rich Klein
I did get to rob a train one time.
[00:33:12.500] - Nathan Riddle
Oh, did you?
[00:33:13.520] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, in the Portola Railroad days. In fact, the train had, I want to say it's Union Pacific, but it may not be. Anyway, it was that like the president of the train line was there, the actor Michael Gross, who was the father of Michael J. Fox on the show that he was in. Oh yeah, family I forgot.
[00:33:39.230] - Nathan Riddle
[00:33:40.090] - Big Rich Klein
Family Ties, I think it was, or something like that. And so he was the like the master of ceremonies and stuff. And he came we did a show and then he came up to us and kind of hung with us the whole rest of the day. And we had lunch with him and then he was on the train when we robbed it. And nobody knew that we were going to rob the train except for the engineer and the people that were putting on the event. So they had all these big wigs from the railroad on the train. When we jumped on these old passenger cars and pulled off the robbery, it was hilarious.
[00:34:22.150] - Nathan Riddle
Oh my gosh.
[00:34:23.060] - Big Rich Klein
They were like, what the hell is going on?
[00:34:27.810] - Nathan Riddle
[00:34:28.940] - Big Rich Klein
And we made sure that OK, it's warm out, make sure the windows are down or open. We use really light loads so that we could do kind of a gun fight in part of the train and had people so that they were not all right there right up against us as well. We had kind of staged, but it was fun. I got to say I got to rob a train.
[00:34:54.910] - Nathan Riddle
That's right. Yeah. I can't say I robbed a train yet. We have to put that on my bucket list.
[00:35:01.110] - Big Rich Klein
You should do it with the script like that, though, so that you don't end up in jail.
[00:35:08.160] - Nathan Riddle
Good point. Good point.
[00:35:09.890] - Big Rich Klein
So then after your time in Kannab, what happened there? College.
[00:35:18.360] - Nathan Riddle
Yes. Well, being an LDS, I went on a mission. I spent two years in Kenya and Kenya, hanging out with lions and baboons and the whole bit. And then came home, went to Southern Utah University, and I didn't know what I was going to do, so I studied theater and advertising. I thought, oh, that's kind of artistic or something, and realize that's not what I wanted to do. But at the time I came across the 3D program that taught me some animation, I'm like, oh, that's what I want to do. I can make all my stories and all the ideas in my head come to life. And so I went out to San Francisco, spent five years out there going to the Academy of Art University, and then from there couldn't find a job. And I'm like, oh, shoot. Spent a year trying to figure out how to be an animator. Finally found a job working for a game company here in the Salt Lake area. And we created a game called Animal Jam, which is huge for kids all around the world and worked there for 17 years is my main gig. And then just in this last, about a year and a half ago, I had an opportunity to work with another YouTuber, Sean Duras.
[00:36:31.390] - Nathan Riddle
He wanted to start an animation studio, and so I jumped over with him and grew from, I think he had three artists that he had started with. And then now we're over 30 people that were creating cartoons for his YouTube channel.
[00:36:48.160] - Big Rich Klein
Wow, that's awesome. So that a YouTube channel that can keep 30 people employed.
[00:36:57.810] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, and that's one of his companies. He's actually got a dozen companies, I can't even keep track. And he's got his Sean Burst channel, and then he's got a channel with his family called A for Adley. And it's just him and his family, they just play pretend and yeah, from those two channels, they're able to support, I think, the whole space station ecosystem that I spend in the company. Space station we're space station animation. But that whole ecosystem is well over 150 people. Wow. And it's crazy. So, yeah, it's pretty intense.
[00:37:35.540] - Big Rich Klein
I'm going to have to take a look at that. I don't spend much time on YouTube. In fact, I would say I spend maybe three or four minutes a week at the most. And that's typically when somebody posts something of somebody I know. So I go watch the short 30, 42nd video, maybe two minutes video type thing. I haven't even watched most of the stuff that's on there on people put up on rock crawling and stuff. But that's amazing that something like that can happen.
[00:38:16.790] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah. One of the other businesses that they have is actually kind of a company that helps other creators be able to make connections with businesses. And so we'll pair businesses with creators that can have a symbiotic relationship to be able to help creators to be able to make money and be able to help businesses be able to increase their reach.
[00:38:42.740] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so almost a marketing firm.
[00:38:45.950] - Nathan Riddle
[00:38:46.880] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:51.510] - Nathan Riddle
So that's what I've done. Stepping away from crowds on for a little bit with the pandemic and everything, I wasn't getting out and so animation kind of went on and then this opportunity came up and that's kind of taken my whole focus for the last year and a half. But over the last little bit, I've noticed that I've been sitting at a desk too much and my arms are starting to go numb. And so my goal is next year is to get back out on the trail. And I don't know how to be on the trail without a camera. So I assume that there will be some videos starting to show up.
[00:39:22.280] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Well, let me know when that happens so I can show them and help that in any way I can.
[00:39:29.290] - Nathan Riddle
I appreciate that.
[00:39:30.490] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So then you mentioned your son and family. Talk about them a little bit.
[00:39:38.240] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah. So being an entertainer, that just kind of bled into the family. My oldest daughter, she got into theater and performing. And my son, he came on every adventure with us because he was going to go on a adventure without their kid. But they're all grown up now. My oldest is Gosh, she's 22, 21, I don't know. Anyway, she's married and moved on. And Matt just graduated from high school this last year and he's getting into mechanics and building stuff, and he and I've been working on the YJ, trying to get it ready to get back out on the trail. And then my youngest daughter, she's still in getting ready to go into high school. And she's an artist like her dad, so she's planning to be an animator and she goes by Adventure Girl. When we go out on the trail, she helps me film some stuff.
[00:40:30.980] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So your kids are pretty well spaced.
[00:40:36.140] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, we didn't want to overdo it.
[00:40:39.590] - Big Rich Klein
You didn't want a basketball team or a football team, huh?
[00:40:42.800] - Nathan Riddle
No, we wanted to make sure we didn't kill the first one before the second one came around, make sure we knew what we were doing.
[00:40:50.610] - Big Rich Klein
That's good. And how long have you been married?
[00:40:53.840] - Nathan Riddle
Oh, gosh, over 25 years. 26 years? Almost 26 years, I think.
[00:40:57.650] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. And what is on the horizon, you think?
[00:41:04.040] - Nathan Riddle
Well, that's a very good question. Obviously being running an animation studio takes a lot, and so that's something that's been a passion of mine for a long time that'll keep going but John and I have talked quite a bit over the last little bit of what we'd like to do with Crawl Zone. The things that really started hurting Crawl Zone at the end is that we had designed it as a news magazine, but with YouTube and with cell phones, it wasn't very long before we realized that by the time we got a really polished video done that the news was old. Right. Everybody had already shared their video for the phone and everybody was already looking towards the next thing and we just weren't fast enough at the level of production that we were trying to put into it.
[00:41:52.090] - Big Rich Klein
[00:41:55.640] - Nathan Riddle
We just really need to rethink what kind of a show we're doing. And so I think over this next year we're going to play around with just more family adventure, kind of YouTube style videos that seem to do well, but to be able to be a little bit more authentic rather. Than going and trying to tell the news in the event or getting an interview of somebody like we've done in the past. It'll be a lot more of an authentic experience of just going out, wheeling and having a good time. And so that's the plan for this next year, I think.
[00:42:28.550] - Big Rich Klein
I think that's really popular. I became really aware of people following what we were doing when I got back from Japan because we were posting videos, we were posting a lot of photos and we went to SEMA and some business owners that I had no idea were following me on Facebook or Instagram. It was like, wow, really enjoy watching what you guys do. You're living the life you're doing. And I'm like, wow, I didn't think of that. I mean, I was doing posting stuff so that I would have the memories and some of my closest friends would maybe see what we were doing and understood where we were at, our family or something. And I didn't realize that just acquaintances or people that I'd never met would actually be following what we were doing. And it was because we were doing something that they didn't get a chance to do. And Offroad is what created that for us. I mean, we went to Australia. It was there for we rock Australia. We went to Japan. It was because of We Rock Japan in an event. And so it's, you know, when we went to Costa Rica, that was just a friend inviting us down.
[00:43:54.860] - Big Rich Klein
But then I got to wheel down there. We try to do that everywhere we go. When we went to the Big Island to Hawaii, we hooked up with the local club there and one of the guys that was in the club and has a business there and he took us all around the Big Island to places that they wheel. So it's been a great ride doing that. But people wanting to experience a lot of people want to experience it firsthand, be there themselves and the younger generation are doing that. But the group that like my age or even from say 50 up that hasn't had the ability to travel, they want to see what other people are doing.
[00:44:48.590] - Nathan Riddle
[00:44:49.460] - Big Rich Klein
And I think that's a good people want to share your experiences, I guess is the best way to put it.
[00:44:56.570] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, that's what we've kind of noticed too, is that having that authentic come along, come hang out with us and we'll show you what we're doing and it almost makes it feel like they're there with you. That's definitely what we want to do is create more of an experience for people to enjoy, like you say, who can't get out or who may like to get out but don't know how to get in, don't know what that bar of entry is and whatnot and to be able to show that it's not so hard. We can go out, we can wheel, we can have a good time and bond together.
[00:45:29.390] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And that's kind of the next step for us is that now that we're pulling back from having to be day to day at the events, the competitive events, it's giving us the opportunity to do more social stuff. And so one of the things that I want to do is put on social runs that will take people on experiences and give them that experience of being out with others. And so I'll need to talk to you about that because I think we can work together on some of that and maybe be able to make contact for content for both of us.
[00:46:08.900] - Nathan Riddle
Right. No, actually I would love to work with you on something like that because it's something that we've actually talked about as well. Trying to figure out how to make the adventures not just going to COVID an event or just a couple of us wheeling but yeah, doing something where you're providing an experience for whoever wants to come along. Right. Like you're saying, let's chat. I would love to see if there's an opportunity there.
[00:46:33.770] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. And people want to go, they want those experiences, they want to do that. But so many of them have never done anything like that. They don't necessarily want to do it alone.
[00:46:47.630] - Nathan Riddle
[00:46:48.310] - Big Rich Klein
They want somebody to take them that can show them the ropes of how to travel like that.
[00:46:54.700] - Nathan Riddle
[00:46:55.940] - Big Rich Klein
It's amazing how many different runs and adventures that people can experience that are out there and it's all about getting those personal experiences.
[00:47:07.490] - Nathan Riddle
Exactly. Yeah. We're on the same brain wave there. Cool. That's one thing that as we were kind of talking through those things that we thought, too, were like, you know what? There's so much about this community that's amazing that we just wanted everybody else to participate. And we knew that there were people out there that would want to come with us if we went wheeling somewhere or whatnot. But for me, the logistics of it, it was something that kind of scared me a little bit.
[00:47:34.490] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I see. I'm used to that kind of stuff. Right. I've made mention to some people that what the kind of things that I want to do and everybody that I've mentioned it to is like, yeah, I'm in. When do we start?
[00:47:52.010] - Nathan Riddle
[00:47:52.420] - Big Rich Klein
I want to go what's it going to take? And right now they're going to be based around the raptor pickups.
[00:48:02.990] - Nathan Riddle
[00:48:03.680] - Big Rich Klein
But eventually when I get the other Jeep done that I'm in the process of, then we'll do more of the hardcore not hardcore, but more of the Jeep lifestyle instead of raptor truck type lifestyle events. And I think it will be fun. We provide a little history, provide a little geography lessons, that kind of stuff. And teach people along the way. Not only give them the experiences, but maybe teach them in other ways as well.
[00:48:39.740] - Nathan Riddle
Absolutely. No, I think you're right on with that. Because even the crawl zone, it was so fun the way we were doing it. But I got tired of just filming a tire turning and putting some music to it. I wanted to have a lot more substance and like you're saying, have a little bit story, have a purpose, have a destination in mind, and be able to really get to know the people that are on the trail with you. So you kind of find out their stories and whatnot. And so I think the things you're talking about really resonate with me. Those are the stories I want to tell anyway.
[00:49:16.700] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Cool. Sounds great. So your son's got a Fiero that he's working on as well.
[00:49:28.640] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, he's got a little Fiero. He's rebuilt the motor in it and redone the interior and doing all kinds of work on it.
[00:49:35.500] - Big Rich Klein
Make sure he mounts a couple of fire extinguishers in there. There's a reason they call him Fierrows.
[00:49:45.060] - Nathan Riddle
I will let him know.
[00:49:48.360] - Big Rich Klein
I think it was Pontiac. I don't think Pontiac actually intended that, but they were one of those cars that you just be driving down the road and all of sudden a, you'd look back and you're on fire.
[00:50:00.970] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, we've heard the stories.
[00:50:03.310] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so make sure he carries some fire extinguishers.
[00:50:06.820] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, there were some actual things. I can't remember exactly what it was, but Matt figured it out that there was something that was causing that and he made sure that was rectified.
[00:50:16.400] - Big Rich Klein
Good. I think it was heat shielding and some of the cooling lines and stuff, whether it was transmission or steering lines, that kind of thing. Well, awesome. So talk about John Jacobs for a little bit. He's quite the character.
[00:50:36.800] - Nathan Riddle
He's an interesting fellow. And he's the one that actually gave crawl's own legitimacy because he was part of a rock crawling competition team. I was at the camera guy. I was there to be on camera and to be famous or whatever narcissistic reason I showed up. But he was legit, right? He and Vic Bunnus, they competed often, came home with trophies. Often they've got walls of trophies that they brought home from we rock. But I think I mentioned earlier ago, but we've been friends for years and years, and he wanted to he was the catalyst of Carl's own. He said, hey, I got the idea. Let's do this. But it's interesting. Even though he was in all the videos and he was usually spotting or he was doing one thing or another, and so he wasn't really recognized early on, but everybody would come up and be like, oh, you're the crawl zone guy to me. And he'd be like, hey, do you recognize me? And they're like, no. We started making this joke that he's just nobody. Oh, he's just nobody. And so the nickname kind of stuck. And so later on, that became kind of his moniker to be like, oh, hey, we're out here on the trail with nobody.
[00:51:51.080] - Nathan Riddle
Who Spocked you up that hill, nobody who helped you today. Nobody just kind of became this running joke. But as soon as we gave that personality and added that to the show, then all of a sudden, he's definitely the more known of the duo, and it just added a lot of fun to what we were doing. But he really is just one of the giving us people that you'll ever meet. If there's anybody stuck on the trail, we'll stop, and we won't go home until it's done. And he'll be right underneath there fixing whatever needs to be fixed, and we'll give a shirt off his back to be there for you. And I'm just really glad that he's my buddy.
[00:52:32.460] - Big Rich Klein
And you said you guys were friends from, like, five years old or fifth grade or something?
[00:52:37.840] - Nathan Riddle
From the fifth grade, yeah. He used to live in Fredonia, which is just a little tiny spot in the road town next to Kanab. And so he moved up to Kanab, and he was in the fifth grade, and we just kind of hit it off. We were kind of the same socioeconomic level of poor and both liked old cars and fixing things, and we were both into gun fighting and theater and just all the same things. We just hit it off really well and have always been friends, have stayed friends, and our families are still really close. Even now, they're probably as close as brothers. Right. Our families hang out, and our kids feel like they're cousins, and so it's been really awesome to be able to. And I really think that was probably the best thing about crawl zone is being able to get out on the trail, not only just to meet other people, but just to bond that a couple of buddies can have, spend that kind of time together doing what they love.
[00:53:35.450] - Big Rich Klein
Right, and that's off road.
[00:53:39.960] - Nathan Riddle
[00:53:40.480] - Big Rich Klein
I mean, it's amazing what the friendships that have come out of off road. That if one of the things that we've always tried to do is to learn about the drivers and the teams that are out there coming out to us. Because there are so many ways that we can hook people together just because of what they do or what they need. And it could be across the country. We've had some friends that lived in Southern California. They had a house in Colorado Springs and they were unhappy with their real estate management company because it was a rental that they had until they were going to retire. And they were like, man, we really got to find somebody for this. And Shelley's, like, really? Because I have a friend that does this. Here's the name and number. And next thing you know, they were working together and became friends. And it's just really great just seeing all that kind of stuff happen and come together when it never would have.
[00:54:49.880] - Nathan Riddle
[00:54:52.260] - Big Rich Klein
And being able to help facilitate that is what I've always strive for.
[00:55:00.290] - Nathan Riddle
Absolutely. And really over the last couple of years, that's what I've missed the most of not getting out there. I'm like, whatever. You got a Jeep, you can go Wheeling or whatever. But to think of doing that alone, it's going and being with people and making new friends and taking care of one another, that's the thing that I miss the most and I'm looking forward to getting back into over this next year.
[00:55:24.920] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I was just sitting up at a little place outside of Georgetown called Uncle Tom's Cabin. It's an old way station and they've got a beer bar there and the campground. And I was sitting there talking to the guy that was running the bar at the time, a friend of mine that I've done an interview with rance. And some people came in, two Jeeps, four people, husbands and wives. And they sit down and they were asking about more of the history and Ranch goes, oh, you ought to listen to this podcast, conversations with Big Rich because Big Rich is sitting right here. And I did a whole thing on Uncle Tom's Cabin with him and they were like, Wait a second, you're Big Rich? And I said, yeah. And the lady had picked up one of the magazines and I said, yeah, the magazine is mine as well. And she goes, oh my God, we know your son. And I said, you do? Yeah, we were a trail hero.
[00:56:31.310] - Nathan Riddle
[00:56:32.060] - Big Rich Klein
And it was like just a small world, and they're local to this area, but it's not somebody I'd ever met before. They live like 25 miles away or something like that up the mountain. But we just met out in the middle of nowhere at a little waystation. And it was because of Wheeling, right?
[00:56:59.840] - Nathan Riddle
Well, that's the thing. You see a Jeep pull up and you immediately have something that, you know you've got an experience that you can share that will open up the doors to get to meet new people.
[00:57:10.040] - Big Rich Klein
And that's one of the things I do. I carry magazines in the truck or in the Jeep, depending on what we're driving.
[00:57:17.420] - Nathan Riddle
[00:57:18.140] - Big Rich Klein
Primarily, it's been the truck the last couple of years. The Jeep has been relegated to just offroad until we get the V Eight Jeep built. But I carry magazines, and every time I see a Jeep that has, like, a window down or it's during the summer and they don't have a top on or something like that, I'll throw a magazine on the seat.
[00:57:39.520] - Nathan Riddle
[00:57:40.210] - Big Rich Klein
I know they come out of the store wherever that's at, and they're like, the hell did this come from? But gorilla marketing, I guess.
[00:57:49.990] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, for sure. Well, you got to get it out there one way, but at the same time, you know, it's something that they're going to appreciate because you know who they are to some extent because of those telltale signs.
[00:58:01.010] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. If it's bone stock street tires on it, I don't bother, because that means the person is just driving it because it's an SUV. If they've got larger tires on it or any kind of modification, then I know. Okay. There's somebody that wants to go wheeling if they're not already.
[00:58:20.930] - Nathan Riddle
[00:58:23.160] - Big Rich Klein
Well, great. Is there anything that we haven't touched on that you want to talk about?
[00:58:29.010] - Nathan Riddle
Oh, gosh, I think that's probably probably the most of it there, you know, just kind of touching on, you know, kind of where it started and where it went and where it's going, and I can tell you, it was just a blast of a ride. Crawl Zone was fun in that it was never a job. I guess it was always just for fun, but, boy, I'm jones in to get back out.
[00:58:56.290] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I was the same way with rock crawling. It was a passion, and it's still a passion. It just became a job. It's not a task. It was something I wanted to do, but I just physically couldn't do what I was doing even five years before.
[00:59:23.160] - Nathan Riddle
[00:59:23.680] - Big Rich Klein
And so getting the partner, Jake Good out there and him running the day to day stuff and freeing us up to do other things is really a godsend, and it's got me excited again about other aspects of Off Road.
[00:59:41.390] - Nathan Riddle
[00:59:42.620] - Big Rich Klein
I'll give you a call with what I have in mind on what we are going to do next.
[00:59:49.340] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to chat with you more about it and see if like I said, see if there's an opportunity there.
[00:59:55.060] - Big Rich Klein
All right, sounds good. Well, Nathan, thank you for coming on and spending some time with us and talking about your history and Crawl Zone and your friendships, and we appreciate that.
[01:00:07.190] - Nathan Riddle
Right. Well, thanks for inviting me on the podcast. I'm really excited as soon as I saw you start the podcast. I don't know how long have you been doing this? It's been a while now.
[01:00:18.890] - Big Rich Klein
We will release on Thursday, 139 episodes. So that's however many? 52 weeks. So we're about two and a half years somewhere around there.
[01:00:35.180] - Nathan Riddle
Yeah. That's crazy. That's gone by that fast. I remember when you first started posting them up, and I'm like, oh, damn, that's cool, and kind of seeing what's going on. And I've always loved to support you guys and started sharing it around, but, yeah, it's kind of fun to be able to make it on the list and be able to chat with you.
[01:00:55.520] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you've been on the list, and I've just been trying to get everybody that's on the list cleared so I can make another list. But I've got I started off with my list says 50 interviews, and I got 138. Yours is 140th interview. I've done right off. There are at least another 140 to 200 names on my list. And every week I keep adding more to it because, like, conversations with ours, like ours. And so I don't think I'll ever run out of people to interview.
[01:01:36.510] - Nathan Riddle
No, I don't think so. I don't think so. You know too many people and have too many experiences with too many people. I think that yeah, that's going to come in handy.
[01:01:44.330] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Anyway, thank you and you have a great rest of the day.
[01:01:48.860] - Nathan Riddle
All right. Thanks, Rich. Will talk to you later.
[01:01:50.330] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, bye bye.
[01:01:51.430] - Nathan Riddle
[01:01:52.560] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or text message or Facebook message and let me know. Any ideas? That you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest, please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.