What do glitter and rockcrawling have in common? Only the lightning strikes of Erik “Camo” Linker – Camo is the co-founder of Pirate 4×4 and a good friend; we are thrilled to have him on the podcast (finally!) Buckle up; you are in for an adventure. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.
7:26 – growing up in the era was magical; I tease my mom that we raised ourselves
15:34 – “the bad news is you don’t have enough credits to graduate, the good news is we don’t want you back”
23:46 – Over the next 18 years, we turned the business into what everybody knows as the Glitter King
28:40 – I broke my neck crashing, I was better at crashing than winning
31:20 – that was my first connection on Pirate with my fake internet friends became real
41:16 – we just went with the mindset of destroying sh*t
52:29 – the thing I’m most proud of with Pirate years is how it enabled so many people to make a business out of something they loved
1:07:37 – that’s what the internet is best at and Pirate was the best of the best
1:16:37 – the offroad angels (this is one of my favorite stories EVER!)
1:40:11 – the sale of Pirate 4×4
Special thanks to 4low Magazine and Maxxis Tires for support and sponsorship of this podcast.
[00:01:39.220] – Big Rich Klein
On this week’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, a long-time friend, Eric “Camo” Linker, joins us. From glitter to hardcore rock crawling to pirate 4×4 to desert racing, moving boats around the world, and rescuing airplanes in Baja, Camo has more experience than most. This is going to be a real pleasurable interview for me to talk to Camo. We go back, well, to the early days of Offroading and Werock and Tin Benders and all that stuff, so the late ’90s, early 2000s. Camo, thank you for agreeing to do this and letting everybody know. I’m going to let everybody know that Camo and I are actually sitting across from each other in his house at a table. This one is special. It’s only the second one I’ve done like this.
[00:02:31.970] – Big Rich Klein
I like doing these so I can see the look in the face and play off of that. Camo, thank you so much.
[00:02:40.860] – Erik “Camo” Linker
Well, thank you, Rich. That was a very kind introduction. We’ll start off with I turned you down the first two times you asked me to do it, which was weird. I can’t even say exactly why I didn’t want to do it, but a part of me felt like when we sold Pirate and I walked away from that world, it was behind me, and I wasn’t really ready to… I wasn’t really ready to talk about it. And maybe I’m still not. It’s not that I’m bitter or anything. I mean, obviously, we did very well, and I’ve moved on past that. I guess I just wasn’t ready to have a conversation that goes out to the world about it, is all. Right. Not necessarily what we’re going to talk about. But from what I gather, we can touch on it. Anyways, you asked me again, and I think I said possibly, and you laughed and said way to commit. But at least possibly was a lot better than the two no’s I gave you previously. So thanks for staying on it. I’m glad to be here. I did want to do it in person, one, because we do go back to the 90s.
[00:03:53.960] – Erik “Camo” Linker
We’ve known each other for a long time, both professionally and just as friends. We live in a pretty small community and where we basically grew up.
[00:04:07.090] – Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. The last 25 years of our life.
[00:04:09.680] – Erik “Camo” Linker
We’ve been through, at least the rock-crawling portion, journey on similar parallel lines and experience some of the same hardships and challenges and successes and at the same time, guts to watch it grow up and see what it became.
[00:04:28.310] – Big Rich Klein
Exactly. And I think it’s… I wanted to do this interview with you, first of all, because everybody is asking, especially after I did the Lance, When’s Camo coming on? When’s Camo coming on? Or after I did Bender? The guys that you were really tight with. You did say no a couple of times, and I did say it exactly a way to commit. I’m glad we got this to happen. The very first question I’m going to ask you is the same question I ask everybody, is where were you born and raised?
[00:05:03.200] – Erik “Camo” Linker
Well, I was born in a small town in Southern California, next to Pasadena, called Sierra Madre. But at a very young age, I moved to Moral Bay, California, which is near San Luis Obispo, small town of about 10,000 people. It’s a beach town. It might be like one of the last, like Southern California small beach town. It’s literally the same population, 10,000 population, as when we moved there in 1970. It’s the same population. It’s the no growth, I’ll call them hippies, but very much a we’re here, lock the doors, nobody else can come here and build. So it’s still a small town, very popular tourist spot, obviously. But it was a pretty fantastic place to grow up.
[00:06:01.610] – Big Rich Klein
About how old were you when you moved there?
[00:06:03.830] – Erik “Camo” Linker
I think I was five when we first moved there. My mom, my brother, and I moved there. But my dad continued to live, because of his job, continued to live in Southern California for two years and drive up on the weekends. We lived with my grandma. Then when he finally moved up, we bought a house that is the house I grew up in. Yeah, such a neat place. If you’ve ever been to Morro Bay, and you mentioned Rob Park, it turns out, like later in life, when him and I became friends, I found out that their family has a house there. He grew up going to Morro Bay for the weekends and getaways and family vacations.
[00:06:48.930] – Big Rich Klein
That’s pretty awesome. I’ve surfed there one time. I had a girlfriend that went to college at San Luis Obispo. Calpoli. Calpoli.
[00:07:00.880] – Erik “Camo” Linker
It’s a fantastic school.
[00:07:02.410] – Big Rich Klein
I’d come up from Santa Barbara because I was going to college down there, and we camp at Avila and stuff like that. No, I went to Brooks Institute of Photography. Ah, Brooks. And then did some City College there as well.
[00:07:17.720] – Erik “Camo” Linker
I did not.
[00:07:18.200] – Big Rich Klein
Realize that. Actually, I trained commercial photographer. Product advertising was my degree. So yeah, a little different.
[00:07:26.050] – Erik “Camo” Linker
Well, growing up in Morro Bay was… Wow, it was magical. I think growing up in that era, let’s face it, we’re a little oldest, and I graduated from high school in the ’80s, but it was the era of latchkey kids. You came home when the streetlights came on, and my parents were at work, and I teased my mom that we raised ourself. We were on our own, but we spent our days surfing and playing at the beach and screwing around on boats and fishing and basically growing up on the ocean. READ MORE