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Me getting started yoyoing was a random thing initially. In 96′ my mother was driving me to a boarding school in Deerfield MA called Eaglebrook ( EBS ). It’s a small town in western Massachusetts. As we entered the town of Deerfield, there was a small craft store that we stopped at. I picked up this really cheap purple plastic yo-yo. My only intention was to learn the basics ie gravity pull, sleeper, walk the dog, rock the baby, around the world etc. But once I got done learning those tricks, I wanted to learn more. At some point I was able to take a day trip over to Northampton ( 2 towns over ) where I found A2Z Science and Learning. I bought one of the Duncan Professional Yo-Yo trick books and started expanding my trick capabilities. Somewhere within that year, Yomega released a few commercials promoting their new line of yo-yos, and that got me really interested. I eventually got around to buying a Yomega Raider, Brain and Fireball ( as well as a Black Mamba at some point for some reason – thanks Mommamont. ) and started trying harder tricks. As you know ( or if you don’t know ), doing advanced string tricks on those yo-yos often times lead to the yo-yo snapping back and hitting you in the knuckles. At some point in 97′ I got pretty frustrated with the pain, so I decided to just let yo-yoing go.
Fast forward to 99′, my new dorm advisor, Mr. Bart Landenburger, was an ex-clown in the Wringlin’ Brothers Circus and he had a cool yo-yo collection. I soon found out that he knew a decent amount of tricks, so I started yo-yoing again and taking a few tips from him here and there. After I graduated from EBS in 00′, I stopped by A2Z again to buy another yo-yo. This time it was a Henry’s Viper ( rubber for the win ) to save me from the irritation I was faced with when I was first learning. The owner of the store, Jack Finn, told me about the upcoming Yomega Yo-Yo Association World Contest ( Y3A ) coming up that summer in Rhode Island and recommended I go. So after I got home for summer break, I started practicing. I went online to find out about the contest and find some videos of other players doing tricks only to find a whole culture that I was never even aware of. I came across yoyoing.com/sector_y and was completely blown away by the Spindoxx trick videos ( props to Citadel for bringing yo-yoing to the internet for people to experience ). I’ll never forget the first one I saw. It featured Gary Longoria doing a very fast braintwister combo ( fancy that ). At the time I was even convinced the video footage was sped up. From that point on, I was completely hooked.
Eventually it came time for the contest and I decided to enter one of the ladder divisions ( I was still very amateur ). Throughout the contest I had been hanging out and learning a lot of cool tricks from Doc Pop and Rick Wyatt. Various other people included ( but not limited to ) Jordan Cooper, Alex Lozyniak, Nate Sutter, Nate Auger ( ie Team MA ), Matt Ross, Mike Carreiro, Brett Outchcunis ( Team Yomega members ) and a whole gang of other people I’m forgetting. EVERY body was very nice and helpful. The whole culture of yo-yoing just really sucked me in so much so, to the point that the actual competition aspect of the contest was the last thing on my mind. I was having a blast just hanging out and learning new tricks with cool people. I ended up getting 2nd to last place in the 2nd to lowest division. But I had learned so many tricks, that I really didn’t care. I had to even start writing them all down so I wouldn’t forget.
After that contest, I started going to as many northern yo-yo contest as I could and stuck with it. The fairytale ending to that portion of my yo-yo career would be that I came back to the Y3A the next 2 consecutive years and got 1st place in the 2 highest divisions.
As far as « What I get out of it, » I just really enjoy it. In the simplest form, it was when I started and still remains ‘cool’. It is a very visually stimulating thing as an observer. But then when you are the one actually doing the tricks that blow you away, its a completely different experience. You get to control how the trick plays out, how smooth it is, what speed certain sections are, what elements in the tricks you want to incorporate. Yo-yoing to me is something that is always expanding. The vast amount of tricks, combos, concepts and elements is constantly expanding and as long as you can keep up ( it’s been tough the past few years ) you can improve.
Early on when I started yo-yoing and buying a surplus of yo-yos, I developed a serious knack for collecting. When it comes to tricks, that character trait definitely bled in. I don’t necessarily collect tricks, because I generally try to only do my own now, but I build a library, so to speak, of my own tricks to own. Tricks that are timeless to me and represent my aesthetic and trick sensibility for yo-yoing. Being that that library can never be complete, I continue to yo-yo and expand on that library, and I love that about it.
I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design ( SCAD ). I was a double major in Graphic Design and Animation. Why 2 majors? Growing up, I was ALWAYS into art. My mom put me into a lot of after school, weekend and summer art programs and that was just really ‘my thing.’ I had accepted it as just a part of who I was and just engulfed myself in it. Growing up watching cartoons, I loved laughing. There was just something about comedy that just stood out. That coupled with visually cool looking characters with interesting sounds and voices ( ie cartoons ) made for solid entertainment. So at a young age, that’s what I set my sites on to do later.
In 7h grade when I was at EBS, most of all the art courses that were being offered were already full, so I thought maybe I’d learn an instrument. I liked the sound of the trumpet and being that it only has 3 valves, I assumed it was one of the simplest instruments to play ( boy was I WRONG ). After I learned to play the trumpet, I joined the school band and kept at it in conjunction with my art classes.
When i got to high school is when I really got involved with music. There were a lot of different bands and the way the curriculum was setup, you could be in a LOT of band classes. By the time I got to my senior year in high school I was in Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Winter Percussion and Jazz Band. I was in every band the school had to offer as well as the president of the band committee. I had made it up in my mind that I was going to be a music major and had more or less forgot about art. That is until ONE day that changed everything.
After I finished EBS, being that the curriculum was a little bit escalated ( it was tough – kinda like a little mini college, great experience though ), I was slightly ahead in my grade. So I had to take some senior classes when I was a junior. One of which was Physics. So the day I speak of was approximately 2 to 3 weeks before school was out for the summer. Since the class was nothing but seniors, and the classes ended early for them for graduation, I was done with the class and the only student left. It was just me and Dr. Hinkle ( very cool dude ). Since he actually had intentions of learning some graphic design as well as I ( I had seen some cool work posted up in the school from the graphic design class ), he let me sit in on their class for the rest of the year. Once I started learning Photoshop, it was really like an epiphany. It was a strong ‘A HA!’ moment. All my interest in art completely re-surfaced. At some point earlier in the year I had been taking a photography class as well, so that had already planted the small seed to be later bloomed ( yea that sounds corny but oh well ).
The next year, my senior year, my schedule became something of amazingment ( I know that’s not a word ). I had maybe 3 academic classes and the rest was filled with music and design classes. Somewhere in the mix I realized that the struggle to become a musician would have been a little bit more then what I wanted to deal with compared to the struggle of being an artist. So I switched gears and decided I was going to step back into the art path. I still wanted to pursue animation so I spoke to an art professor about what college would be the best for animation and also close to Cartoon Network ( sidenote* Cartoon Network was my dream job/lifetime goal as a kid ). SCAD was recommended so thats where I went.
Being practical, I knew animation would be a very difficult field to make it in, so I kept Graphic Design as a backup job just in case ( thank God ). I had spent hours in high school doing design and still enjoying it, so I figured I’d probably continue to enjoy it even more in college.
Now I say all this to say, the ‘stuff’ that I get into, I REALLY get into, and it sticks. That’s what I would attribute a lot of the overlapping to. If something fascinates me enough, then I just GOTTA try it. And generally, those ‘things’ that fascinate me enough to try them, I end up spending a lot of time and energy in. That being the case, the traces of all these traits in my yo-yoing is the result.
Watching your sets, it seems that each one is an improvement from the last, following similar guidelines adding more style, flow, rythm, like you were after the « perfect » way to perform the perfect set, it’d be nice to know your approach behind your freestyles. How do you come up with your combos? Do you use music for inspiration ?
I’m very flattered that you’ve picked up on the progression of my freestyles. Let me call attention to that first. Honestly, while I was in college towards the end and needing to start making some serious moves for my future, I had next to no time to practice or make new tricks. So there was a big chunk of time where I was more or less doing the same freestyle with the addition of a couple new tricks here and there. So realistically, it was more of a happy accident. I ended up weeding out the tricks that I didn’t think needed to be in their and kept the ones that I deemed as ‘timeless’.
There are a LOT of songs that I like. So much to the point that it makes it incredibly difficult to choose just one freestyle song. That generally results in me picking my freestyle songs at the last minute. Usually the list will be narrowed down to maybe 4 tracks, then based on how I’m feeling during the contest, I’ll finally choose 1. I listen to my songs a LOT, so i know them well. Also on a side note, the first 2 years I was competing, and many other oldschool players will say they did the same, all my freestyles were improvised on stage. I’d go on stage with a few elements from combos and the such and make up stuff on stage. Truely ‘freestyling.’ That’s what was enjoyable to me and more fun. Since I was already used to that style of performing, fast forward to my modern day freestyles ( which are planned ), I still don’t really need to have the track set in order for me to do the freestyle. I memorize a trick order, generally trying to mix up both fronstyle and sidestyle equally, and then freestyle stage movement, crowd participation and performance in the moment. It becomes much more lively to me that way. In all honestly, some times work better than others, and yes their have been occasions where if everything I did was completely choreographed ahead of time, it may have meant the difference between me placing how I did vs. placing higher. BUT at the end of the day, I didn’t get started yo-yoing to compete, nor do I continue yo-yoing to compete. I got started yo-yoing because it was cool and because I thoroughly enjoyed doing the tricks I was doing. If I’m not having that same enjoyment on stage as I do when I am off stage, then I mine as well not even be up there. It may lower my ranking at times but that’s ok. I enjoy it too much to let that be a tangible concern. ( That’s not to say that I don’t like winning – the fun aspect is first and foremost : P
and, I’m not sure if I’m gonna publish this one, it depends on the answer I guess, but will we have the chance to see tutorials from Mark Montgomery’s famous brain twister combos one day?
Maybe. It is really more so a matter of time. I am ALWAYS busy and those tutorials can take a long time to make ( when made right ). I am always willing to teach people that combo in person and every now and again teach it at my Single A breakout at the World Yo-Yo contest.
On the flip side ( and this may be the grumpy oldmanness coming through ) back in my day…we didn’t have video trick tutorials to go from. We had Kens World On a Strong trick illustrations ( if I recall correctly ) and the actual video footage to slow down, to learn from. I feel like that in itself is a skill that every yo-yoer should have. There aren’t going to be tutorials for every trick you see. If you can get comfy cozy in being able to digest tricks and how they are done from just looking at players do them, you’ll be able to retain elements and concepts faster. Which will indefinitely expand your yo-yo skills.
Please tell us more about your artistic past, present and future projects involving yoyos, how you combine your skills in design, marketing with your passion for yoyoing?
Well as a designer, marketing is a big ‘need to know.’ Being that I have a yo-yo to sell, I want to make sure that it sells. So that means figuring out a good way to market it. Me being heavily into design, music etc. the result is just a result of what I like, what I enjoy and my thinking for good marketing.
Another yo-yo related project I’ll make note of is the F.A.S.T. tour I was on. Now it wasn’t really a ‘project’ per-say, but it played a GIANT roll in many aspects of my life today.
Lemme start by saying big big thanks to Ben and Yohans of YoYofactory for recommending me for the tour. So the F.A.S.T tour I was on consisted of traveling to 3 different states and performing/teaching/selling for 1 month in each. When we trained for this tour, we had a MASSIVE script to memorize to be used as our schpeal. Now there wasn’t much emphasis put on this next challenge, but it was indefinitely HUGE. The script was long, but a lot of the times, the shows spawned ‘exceptions.’ Whether it was the fact that we had less time to put on the show, the audience reacted completely different to a part of the script then we were planned for or anything else far from or in between the two. These ‘exceptions’ are what really shaped me into not just a good yo-yo performer, but performer in general and MC ( master of ceremony, not rapper ‘although I do dabble in that : D’). It was a very humbling experience because what I and Pat Mitchell ( another player I was touring with ) thought was a great show, Ben and YoHans would critique as sometimes poor. So that tour really pushed me in the right direction in performing. From that my experience, my communication skills improved vastly. Also while on that tour, being that I was yo-yoing all the time, it gave me a LOT of time to expand on my trick library. It was around the time that Jason Lee was doing chopsticks but had stepped off the scene to join the military. It was still an incredible trick concept that hadn’t really gotten as much attention as it should have yet. I really dug it so I piggy backed off of what he set in motion and took it in my direction ( props to Jason Lee ).
What’s next for Mark Montgomery ?
I’m currently working with Onedrop yoyos on some ‘things’ so thats on the chop blocks. I didn’t mention this earlier, but I’m really into dancing and have recently gotten really into freestyle House dance, so eventually I’ll be trying to compete in that. Busy at my job as an Interactive Designer, got some really cool projects getting done and coming through ( unfortunately I can’t post any of it up for a while ).
Care to share a story involving you, a yoyo and something unusual happening ?
Hmm…The only major story that comes to mind is the story of how I funded myself to the National Yo-Yo contest in…02′ I think it was. I was working as either a dishwasher or busboy at the time at a restaurant in Cape Cod called The Parrot Bar & Grille ( now I’m hungry ). The wife of one of my co-workers was at the bar pretty frequently and had seen me yo-yoing in passing and started talking to me about it. Next thing I know, she grabs a hat and walks me around the bar yo-yoing to collect tips to help fund me to the contest. She did this on I think 3 separate nights and was able to raise me about 300 dollars. I was blown away to say the least, still am.
What would you tell someone who’s considering to start to throw ?
Just keep doing it till’ you get it. Because once you get it, you’ll have really gotten it : )
You can check out his signature throw —> here
You can also download the desktop wallpapers
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